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Heroes of Yesterday

This page is dedicated to the heroes of yesterday, when the footballers were colourful, humble and worked for a crust. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 30 - 14 June 2017 - Graeme Wynn

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Graeme Wynn was a great servant of the mighty St George Dragons, with a career at the club spanning from 1979 to 1990.  Graeme went on to play two season at Western Suburbs.  Graeme played two Interstate matches one Origin for NSW. Graeme also played for Australia on the Tour of New Zealand in 1980 and was also names the Rookie of the Year in 1979.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 30 - 14 June 2017 - Graeme Wynn

Where did you grow up?

Werris Creek, North West NSW.  Peter Wynn is my older brother and I have two older sisters.

What was your first football experience?

Dad worked on the Railway and I was born at Blayney, NSW and I played Under 7's out there.  We then moved to Werris Creek and Peter and I played for the local side in the 4 Stones 7's team and after that it went to age groups.  After that we only played for the School side and then the Under 18s side for Werris Creek.  In 1978 I was selected to play for Country Firsts.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Peter and I went to the Northern Division to play in the Under 18's side playing against Queensland.  We were coached by Jack Gibson, we all looked up to Jack because of his status and we stayed at his place.  Throughout my career I always chatted with Jack and had a lot of respect for him.  The guys who came from the country were very raw.  We came up against players like Wally Lewis and Fatty Vautin.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yeah I used to collect the old Scanlens footy cards.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

I looked up to Changa Langlands and Bily Smith as a kid, I was always a St George supporter.

Lead up to the top grade?

In 1977 and 1978 I  was playing for West Newcastle in the Newcastle competition.  I was the player of the year for West Newcastle and Man of the Match in the Grand Final win.  It was a very strong competition and there was some past Sydney and English Internationals playing for West Newcastle including Eric Lawson.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

It was against Manly, I scored two tries and I was Man of the Match.  The Manly side was very strong with players such as Terry Randall, Max Krilich, Russell Gartner and Allan Thompson.

Experiences playing for St George between 1979 to 1990?

Roy Masters and Harry Bath were the best coaches.  They introduced a few very good players including Steve Morris, John Dowling and Steve Edge.  We always had a very good pack  with Craig Young, Bruce Starkey, Rod Reddy, John Jansen and Robert Stone.

We had a great side until 1986.  A lot of players were being recruited from elsewhere and in 1990 they got rid of me, I was heartbroken.  I got a call to play for Wests Magpies and I ended up playing 46 First Grade games for them in the 1991 and 1992 seasons and I was awarded player of the year for them in 1992.

1979 Rookie of the Year?

It was a Channel 9 award that they handed out.

Semi Finals 1979 experience?

In 1979 we beat Parramatta against my brother and I got Man of the Match.  We then went straight to the Grand Final, it was a good week.

1979 Grand Final experience ?

All of the boys got together before the game and had a talk.  It was a Saturday game.  The following morning I had to go to Channel 9 to accept my Rookie of the Year award.  We went to the Georges River Sailing Club to celebrate, everything happened very quickly.  I was awarded the Frank Hyde Man of the Match for the Grand Final/

1984 Final where Eric Grothe scored at the death and lead up to that ?

If you go back through that game, you will see a lot of decisions that favoured Parramatta to get them in the position for that try.  In saying that we had our opportunities and didn't capitalize on them.  We didn't have the ball for the last ten minutes of the game.  I think we would have beat Canterbury in the Grand Final the following week, we had Steve Rogers in that side.  

1985 Grand Final loss against Canterbury ?

We were beaten by a point, those things hurt you.  We had tough forwards as well as Canterbury, I don't think they were tougher than us.  We had Pat Jarvis, Carig Young and myself in the forwards, John Fifita broke his arm in the Semi Final so couldn't play.  I personally think we would of been better off with big Chris Walsh in the side but they picked Graeme O'Grady, much smaller player.

Western Suburbs years between 1990 and 1991

Brian Smith let me go after 12 years service, he said I wasn't good enough.  I spoke to Jack Gibson and he gave me confidence about my ability and that I was still valuable.  Paul Langmack was injured at Wests and then Warren Ryan called me and asked if I wanted to play at Wests.  We had a really good team at Wests and a great bunch of blokes.  I played 42 games in two years for them, not bad for a bloke who was meant to be washed up. 

NSW Selection in 1980

I played in two Interstate matches and one Origin.  In the Interstate games, we had a lot of players who were from Queensland.  It was quite funny, in the Origin concept a lot of players didn't want to play against their club team mates.  When we arrived at Lang Park Queensland were full of energy and really had a desire to beat NSW which was lead by the inspirational Arthur Beetson.  We were probably ambushed, we didn't expect that sort of intensity.  We had Les Boyd and Ray Price pull out of the match. 

Australia selection in 1980, Tour of New Zealand

I played every game and I was a reserve for the Test sides, I didn't get a run for the Test matches though.  My firs match was against the New Zealand Maories, I was just excited to put on that Green and Gold jumper and honoured to be selected to play for my country. 

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

My first highlight was pulling on the St George jumper and then winning the Grand Final with the Dragons.  Then it was playing for NSW and finally for Australia.

Who was your most respected rival?

In the early days I respected Les Boyd, I respected nearly every First Grade footballer, they are tough, otherwise they wouldn't be there.  I respect my brother. 

What was the best team you played against?

We had some great games against Parramatta and the Bulldogs.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

In 1992 we played in a Semi Final and Warren Ryan asked if I wanted another year, my body told me that I had enough of the training.  I was still enjoying the football that is for sure. 

What followed after football?

I coached the Gymea Gorillas and I am still coaching them now. 

I was on the board of the St George Dragons until we merged with the Illawarra Steelers and the boards agreed to combine.  I have the Under 26s St George representative sides and I am watching those kids come through now.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The professionalism, it was beginning to become professional at the end of my career.  The players today get enough from football to be a full time player, we had to work to earn our money.

These days they train so much that they are all athlets.  They have sports scientists, nutritionists, recovery specialists, they look at each player every day.  We used to have a few beers after a game.  Skills work has improved, they plan an eight hour training day and we used to train two hours, three times a week.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Sea Level at Cronulla

What are your hobbies?

I play a bit of golf and I still love football.  I have my wife and three kids, we were married in 1984 and she has supported me throughout all of these years. 

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

My sons put them together and framed a bunch for me.

Have you collected scrap book ?

I used to live with this lady and she used to maintain a scrap book for me while I played.  I have papers but I am not a big collector.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 29 - 01 June 2017 - Les Hayes

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Les Hayes had a distinguished career with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters from 1966 to 1971 and then returned to the Tri Colours side for the 1974 and 1975 seasons.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 29 - 01 June 2017 - Les Hayes

Where did you grow up?

Paddington

What was your first football experience?

I went to the old Sydney Sports Ground when I was a kid to watch Easts play, I think it was either 1947 or 1948.  I think they played Newtown and they won.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

My grandfather knew some of the players from the original Easts team from 1908.  I did get to meet Dally Messenger and Jersey Flegg who lived not far from where I grew up in Paddington.  It wasn’t until I was older and realised how important these guys were to Easts football club and to Rugby League as a whole.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

No

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Wally O’Connell, Ferris Ashton and Col Donahue.

What was it like playing for Easts between 1966 and 1971?

It was tough at times, especially in 1966 when we didn’t win a game all season.  Jack Gibson came on board and turned everything around and we ended up making the Semi Finals the following season in 1967.  I might add this turnaround was with the same group of players.  We got a roll on and went on from there.

What were you doing between 1972 and 1974?

I had a few irons in the fire at that stage.  I had a brewery truck and delivered beer to all of the pubs and restaurants around Sydney.  I also owned a Fruit and Vegetable shop in Spring Street, Bondi Juntion which was just across the road for the Easts Leagues Club.  I have been told it is a Sushi Train now.

What was it like being in the Roosters side of 1975, had it changed much from your first stint?

1975 was my last year at the Roosters and we were a very professional and well drilled team.  We had a lot of high profile players as well.  We practiced the basics such as passing, tackling and playing the ball until you could do it with your eyes closed.  We had a good trainer in Mick Souter who would work on the fitness with us.

What was the culture like at Roosters ?

The culture was great, we were all mates off the field as well.  Most of us played juniors together or against each other in the local comp with Bondi United, the Paddington Colts, London Tavern and Millers Double Bay sides.  We also had a couple of Rugby Union converts in Alan Cardy and John Ballesty making it a great place to be.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

It was against Balmain at Leichhardt Oval. We won.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

It is definitely playing for the Roosters, I could never ever play for another team.

Who was your most respected rival?

George Piggins, he was a tough bloke and fair.  Off the field as well, he is a champion bloke.

What was the best team you played against?

The mighty St George team that won 11 straight Grand Finals was virtually an Australian side.  I played against them in 1964 and 1965.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

It was around the beginning of the 1975 season, every game began to feel like a comeback.

What followed after football?

I sold the Fruit and Vegetables shop around 1977 or 1978 and sold the brewery truck around the same time.  It was around this time that the larger companies began to get into alcohol distribution.  I also studied law part time whilst working in the oil industry at Golden Fleece, which became Caltex.  I worked my way up the ladder there until I retired.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

For starters it is much cleaner and professional now; I guess you could say it is made for TV.  I don’t think some of the blokes playing today would have cut it back then, they would have spent their weekends at St Vincents hospital counting sheep!

The referees now days think they are bigger than Ben Hur.  They are not that big and never will be.  Back when I played most of the refs played the game at one point and knew the ‘unwritten law’.  Blokes like Kevin Roberts and Col Pearce knew how to ref a game.  If there was a high shot and the inevitable get square came along, they’d call out “You’re both even” and that would be it. 

One club men like Anthony Minichello, Mitch Aubusson and Mitchell Pearce are few and far between these days.

What are your hobbies?

Relaxing at home and spending time with the family.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Giovannas at Kingsford

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 28 - 03 May 2017 - Paul Morris

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Paul Morris was graded with the Balmain Tigers in the tail end of the 1980 season before joing Newtown the following season.  Paul spent the majority of the season before skyrocketing into the 1981 Finals series and earning a position alongside Tommy Raudonikis in the Grand Final against Parramatta at a very young age.  Paul also played for the St George Dragons.  Paul is as great a footballer as he is a great bloke.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 28 - 02 May 2017 - Paul Morris

Where did you grow up?

Ermington

What was your first football experience?

At 14 years old learning how to tackle in the junior league for Ermington Rydlemere, just learning at training.  I wasn't tackling really good and I was black and blue because I was tackling around the knees and I learnt to tackle a bit higher around the thigh.  I was mainly a soccer player and then got into football.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

My Dad took me to Cumberland and it was Parramatta v Manly, and Manly in those days Manly couldn't play in the wet and Parramatta were not a good side and Parra beat them in the wet.  My Dad was a mad Parramatta fan and he was very happy.  Then he said to me after that why not have a go at football rather than soccer and I didn't hesitate. 

I was very close to my Dad and I was happy that when I played Rugby League and I was competitive he was proud of me.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I had a set of 1981 Newtown cards, I think they were the Ardmona ones.  I wasn't into it when I was a kid

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

My Dad used to take me to Cumberland Oval.  Johnny Peard, the Bomber.  I also liked Bob Fulton, Steve Rogers, Ray Branighan.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

In 1980 I was promoted to First Grade and I played against Canterbury and Easts and they were the two sides that played in the Grand Final that year.  I played five eight and I came up against the Hughes brothers.  I remember feeling very nervous, the first game, they just pulled me up from Jersey Flegg with no warning.  It was a very big occasion as a 17 year old, I had been in four or five grand finals in lower grades. 

They wanted to see if I could handle first grade before offering a contract. 

What got you to Balmain?

I was playing for Balmain juniors, SG Ball.  I was captain of the Jersey Flegg side in 1980 and we were undefeated and I scored 97 points in 6 games.  I was the goal kicker.  Steve Massey was the half back and I was the five eight.  If I hadn't played with Tommy Raudonikis, Steve Massey would have been the best half back I ever played with. 

What was the culture like at Balmain ?

At school Johnny Davidson was playing on the wing for Balmain, and he was my mate.  There is always someone who can guide you through.  Just play into the game and not think too much is the advice he gave me.  After those two games I knew come 1981 I would be well off. 

1980 Selected to play for NSW against QLD in the Under 18s side, how was that experience?

It was very daunting going to Lang Park, I had never been there.  Andrew Farrar was in the centres, Steve Roach was a prop, Ben Elias was there, we had a good side.  QLD on that night they had a better side.  I was selected at 5/8.  I

What made you move to Newtown?

Tommy Raudonikis caught up with me and said mate we can do things with you here.  Warren Ryan offered me a contract and it was more than what Balmain offered me and why wouldn't you play next to an Australian player in Tommy Raudonikis. 

How was the culture at Newtown?

I went there in the new year of 1981.  The culture was relaxed, we went out at the start of the year at Richmond Grey hounds, they got us a bus up there.  Tommy Raudonikis got up on stage and said you are all punters here, I am telling you to get on Newtown to make the Grand Final this year. 

I was only young, so I was trying to get myself in order.  Tommy lived at Blacktown and they used to come past in the car to pick me up along with Ray Blacklock.  This made me feel secure and confident.  My father didn't have to drive me to training.  Tommy gave me a lot of time.  Tommy and I played Reserve Grade all year until about two weeks before the Semi Finals.  Tommy went to First Grade a week earlier than me and requested that I partner him in the halves.  We played against Cronulla at Henson Park for my first game for Newtown in First Grade and we beat them 15 to nil.  I scored two two tries and kicked two goals.  Our combination was pretty good and Ken Wilson ended up on the bench. 

Warren Ryan was a very tactical coach, he said you play 80% in the opponents half you win the game, and I was the tactical line kicker. 

What happened in that big brawl in 1981 against Manly?

I was 18, I stood at the back and watched it.  I nearly won Man of the Match in that one.  Everyone was in it except for me.  I wasn't going through punches at 18 years old.  We heard 15 minutes before the game that Mark Broadhurst was going to put the brawl on in the first scrum.  Bowdo heard about this and handled himself, what got him down was the second headbutt.  Terry Randall got sent off after this.  I am glad Randall was off.  Egor was a hard tackler.  I went on the field to play football not to fight. 

Newtown v Canterbury at Henson Park, the two Mortimer boys hit me at the same time.  It was the first 0-0 draw.

After the 81 Grand Final a lot of people were off contract and wanted more money and that put Newtown on a downward spin.  Come 1983 Peter Kelly and Dean Lance arrived.  We had a lot of young people in the last year and they took us out to Campbelltown and it was like 38° which was just murder.  1983 was a bit of a struggle. 

How was the 1981 Grand Final experience?

Bad day for goal kicking.  I came up against Brett Kenny.  He is the most elusive 5/8 I came up against.  We played Parramatta in the First Semi Final and they beat us 10-8.  I learnt from that game that Brett Kenny had to be stopped.  So in the Grand Final I just focused on trying to Stop Brett Kenny.  I had a rib cartilage which happened during Parramatta's first try, his boot stud went straight into my rib and he got the ball to the winger and they scored.  Warren Ryan was worried about it and wanted to take me off, but I said I am right.  Kenny took over with 20 minutes to go, probably the worst thing he did, we were leading at that time.  He also took off Geoff Bugden as well, in those days you shouldn't take off your front rowers.  It was a Grand Final you don't get taken off.  What had been happening in the Semi Finals was Ken Wilson was replacing Tommy Raudonikis.  On Grand Final day Tommy said replace me today and I'll bash the F*&% out of ya.  So instead of taking Tommy off he took me off.  I held Kenny for 60 minutes.  He did the same thing at Balmain. 

How did you end up at the Dragons?

Newtown folded in 1983, I knew they were going to fold and contract had run out.  I called Souths to find out if they needed my services, I didn't have a manager or anyone to look after me.  I then called St George and they said come and talk to us.  I spoke to Roy Masters. 

How was the culture at the Dragons?

My first game for St George was the Charity Shield and it was basically a blue.  Roy Masters was a genius.  Roy said to me, you have had a year after your operation and you are ready for your prime. 

You had to be disciplined to play there compared to Newtown.  At St George you had the likes of Craig Young, Robert Stone, Steve Gearin, Michael O'Connor, they were all disciplined.  Craig Young and Robert Stone are very good people.  Steve Gearin was very helpful to me.  Pat Jarvis was built like cement. 

Perry Haddock was the halfback and I was outside him. 

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

My father put me into the game out of Soccer because I loved the game so much more. 

My highlight of playing is playing outside of Tommy Raudonikis in the 1981 Grand Final.  There is nothing else you could ask for, put it this way, Tom Raudonikis played for NSW, Australia and 13 years of first grade football and that was his first Grand Final.  Now if you forget about my two games for Balmain in 1980, 1981 was my first year in first grade and I am straight into a Grand Final. 

What they did was blood me with Tommy two weeks before the Semi Finals.  The two Jacks, the trainers and they said to me keep going how you are going in Reserve Grade and you are a good chance in First Grade. 

I played with some terrific footballers Steve Roach, Ben Elias, Kevin Hardwick, but my highlight was Tom Raudonikis. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Brett Kenny and Terry Lamb.  Terry Lamb is the hardest 5/8 I played against and Brett Kenny was the most elusive I played against. 

I lived at Earlwood back on those days and Terry Lambs parents lived down the road. 

What was the best team you played against?

You would have to say Parramatta, they were awesome, especially in the 1981 Grand Final.  Manly as well had about 10 out of the 13 players, played for Australia. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

Laughed, when my whole body gave up.  I had knee problems.  In 1986 I went to Balmain and the coach said I was too slow for 5/8 and said he will put me in second row.  I didn't turn up the following week, I never went back.  I felt insulted. 

What followed after football?

Operations and work.  I have been a forklift driver for 35 years.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

All the players want to do now is cover the ball up, when I played I was an ankle biter, hit them around the bootlaces and they go straight down.  I don't agree with the way the coaches are teaching them how to tackle and wrestle. 

I have a beautiful life partner, her name is Tracey, we have been together for 16 years.

What are your hobbies?

Having a bet on a Saturday

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

No I didn't

What’s your favourite restaurant?

A place called No Names and we used to go there after training at Moore Park with all the Newtown boys.  Spaghetti Bolognese, it was great and you got heaps of food.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 27 - 24 April 2017 - Danny Moore

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Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 27 - 24 April 2017 - Danny Moore

Where did you grow up?

I was born and Bred in Townsville.  I turned 19 and two months later I was on the plane to Sydney.

What was your first football experience?

My father was a pretty handy footy player in the Townsville area.  I played with the Tallis brothers in the Townsville competition.  Dad played for the mighty South Townsville Bulls and old Wally Tallis was the coach and Wally Junios played.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League?

Watching the first ever State of Origin.  In those days we were usually in bed by 8pm and I was about 9 or 10 years of age, it was one of the only times my four younger brothers and I were allowed to stay up late.  It was built up as an opportunity to get one back on NSW.  I remember watching the first Origin and seeing the all in brawl and knew this was on for young and old.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

No mate, we didn’t get them in Townsville.  The ABC TV showed the Grand Finals of the Sydney competition, we lived on Brisbane Footy.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

I was a big fan of Wally Lewis, he just amazed me at what he could do on a footy field.  I was never a 5/8.

How did you get to Sydney?

I played junior football for Centrals in Townsville and when I was 15 I played for Souths in the Townsville competition before going to Sydney.  I played in a Queensland Under 19s side in 1990, Graham Lowe was the QLD Origin coach and he said he needed to speak with the number 13 right away.  That was the curtain raiser for Origin at Lang Park, I had never played in front of such a big crowd. 

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

My first grade debut was in a Pre Season match against Canterbury at Lismore in 1991.  I was so nervous before the game I was throwing up, I had never done that before and never again actually.  I was playing as a lock forward. 

My first proper match in 1991 was against Parramatta and again I was lock forward and my first tackle was on Brett Kenny. 

I played a fair bit of Reserve Grade in 1991 and it was a fairly brutal game in those days.  I do remember it was a lot more organised in first grade.  In Reserve Grade you were trying to bash the living daylights out of your opposite number.

How were your Experiences playing for Manly between 1991 and 1997?

We played in consecutive Grand Finals from 1995 to 1997.  I loved my time being involved as a member of the mighty Sea Eagles.  Graham Lowe was my first coach there for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.  My closest mates were Daniel Gartner, Scotty Fulton and Chris Ryan, as well as Ian Roberts. 

I remember when I was selected for Queensland for the first time and Ian Roberts came out to the car park to congratulate me.  There were some great players involved with the club such as Geoff Toovey and Mark Carroll.

Semi Finals

The first Semi Final I played in was against a red hot Broncos side in 1993.  The Broncos went on to win the comp that year and I came up against Steve Renouf, I couldn’t catch him in cover defence. 

1995 against Canterbury Grand Final

Your first Grand Final is a nervous affair.  The week leading up to the Grand Final was the big part, there was so much going on.  We tried to steady our nerves during the game.  The Bulldogs got off to a good start with Steve Price scoring a try in the 7th minute.  In the second half the Bulldogs scored a try on the 7th tackle and I actually missed a tackle on my opposite number, Mark Ryan.  We were a bit disjointed in that game, we probably lost our way a little bit.  We came off the field pretty dejected after 13 months of hard training. 

1996 Grand Final against St George

We were a lot more focused and had learnt lessons from the year before.  There was a controversial play the ball try from Matthew Ridge.  We enjoyed carrying the trophy around that day.  We were the better side on the day. 

1997 Grand Final against Newcastle

The try on the death won it for them, it was one of those games.  I got a head knock in the second half, Joey Johns made something out of nothing in the second half. 

State Of Origin Selection

In 1994 I was actually called in as a shadow player.  In 1995 when the Super League was going on and many of the regular Queenslanders not available for selection, I was picked in Fattys Neville Nobodies side.  There was a misture of young guys like Robbie O’Davis and Brett Dallas and some old heads like Gary Larson and Trevor Gillmeister.  The Fat Mans job was to get us to become good mates with each other and have a cold beer together.  My recollection of what we did was Mark Hohn put his hand up and said he had a backline move.  The move involved having the two centres on the same side of the field, we used his move and it came off with a try, and I was lucky enough to be involved in that.  Fatty worked on telling us that Origin was won by defending the line.  We won the first match 2-0.

State Of Origin Blue

It was the 1995 Origin match down in Melbourne, Hoppa and myself were against each other.  The whisper we got was the first person who yelled Queenslander was going to get a smack in the mouth.  Hoppa had gone looking for Singy and I thought Singy was out of his depth and I told Hoppa to settle down.  He pulled my jumper over my head and it was survival after that. 

Your debut for Australia?

I was selected for Australia in 1995 and it had a bit to do with winning the Origin Series.  Bob Fulton was the coach and he knew he could use me either in the centres or the second row.  I played my first Test Match against New Zealand from the bench.  I came on in the lock forward position and we rolled New Zealand at Lang Park. 

Terry Hill picked up a suspension in that match and I took his spot in the centres for the remainder of the Test Series.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Obviously I was very fortunate to to play in three Grand Finals in Australia and one in England.  Also playing in an Origin Series and winning it by three games to nil was very special.  I also got to represent my country.  They are all pretty much in line with each other.

How was your time at the Wigan Warriors between 1998-1999?

At the end of the 1997 season they were bringing the two competitions together and there was a fair bit of uncertainty about how the two comps would go once reunited.  I received a phone call telling me that Wigan were looking for centres and I thought it was a good opportunity to join a Premiership winning side.  John Monie was the coach and I got to play with a wonderful bunch of players.  In 1998 we got to the Grand Final at Old Trafford and we beat Leeds on the day.  I was fortunate to play alongside Jason Robertson, Henry Paul, Andy Farrell, Simon Gordon, Robbie McCormack and Mark Bell.

What made you move to the London Broncos

I had a few dramas at the end of the 1999 season and I was more pushed out of Wigan than anything else.  I went to London and ended up breaking my jaw so I decided to come home.

On return to Australia you signed with the Cowboys in 2001

I had a bit of a cameo there, moved my young family to Townsville.  I was asked to give a hand with the young guns. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Big Mal Meninga, he taught me a lesson or two.  I remember playing in against Mal in the 1993 season and in the second half he played all over me after getting on top of him in the first half. 

What was the best team you played against?

The Canberra side of the mid 90’s was the best side.  The toughest was Canterbury, for some reason you always left the field battered and bruised.  They were the team that made you work the hardest. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

They wanted to pay me match money, no salary money.  At 29 years of age there wasn’t enough incentive and I had a young family and wife to think about.  I would have kept playing on, I actually enjoyed the training. 

What followed after football?

I worked as a financial advisor and five years ago I had a career change and became and electrician.  I also have two teenage daughters.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The management of the ruck annoys me a bit.  Obviously these days the young footballers are phenomenal athletes but the footballing skills are being lost a bit.  Referees are not prepared to call held. 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Asana, modern cuisine

What are your hobbies?

Riding mountain bikes and road cycling, that is how I fill up my spare time.  I collect old school BMX’s

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

Mate I have a few sets that I have set aside for my daughters.

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

My mum dropped off two boxes of newspaper clippings and a box of VHS games.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 26 - 22 March 2017 - Greg McCallum

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Greg McCallum had a distinguished career as a First Grade Referee from 1983 through to the Grand Final of 1994.  Greg McCallum reached all levels possible refereeing State of Origin, Internationals and First Grade Grand Finals. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 26 - 22 March 2017 - Greg McCallum 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Manly area in a place called Cromer.  I played Junior league for the Forestville Ferrets.

What was your first football experience?

I was introduced to the game of Rugby League by a school mate and it developed into a passion.  I couldn't imagine my life without Rugby League, even at that young age.  Early on I played in the 6 and 7 positions however when I was older I moved to the lock position.  I also played Rugby Union for the Dee Why Lions, we would play Union on the Saturday and League on the Sunday.  I also played for Cromer in the School side. 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Clive Rogers was the School Football Coach and he was like a father figure to me.  I lost my father when I was 13 years old.  Clive refereed until he passed away at 78 years of age.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yes I did, I didn't like the chewing gum too much, but I liked the cards.  I was a Manly supporter as a kid and unfortunately I lost my card collection during the Great War, my divorce.  I had a great collection of Scanlens cards from the late 196os through to the early 1970s.  I used to swap them at the footy, I would swap other clubs for Manly players.  I had them up until the early 1980s.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

The first player I really enjoyed watching was Bill Bradstreet, he played for Australia in 1966 and I started following football in 1967.  Bob Fulton was a great player for Manyl and I also enjoyed watching Ian Martin, I believe he was underrated and should have played at representative level.  I really respected Terry Randall, he was a great forward, he would dish it out and take it as well.  I thought all of the English players that Manly brought out all contributed in their own way.  Phil Lowe, Steve Norton were all very good, in particular Malcolm Reilly who was the key to Manly winning their first Grand Final in 1972.

What got you into refereeing?

My mentor Clive Rogers became a referee himself at 65 years of age and he talked me into it once he got ticketed. 

Tell me about how you got into the Sydney competition?

I started refereeing in 1979 and Clive Rogers coached me through the early days.  I came through the junior reps and refereed the Presidents Cup in 1981, the first game was St George v Parramatta at the Sports Ground.  In 1982 I was graded and the Refereeing Director was Eric Cox and who was a hard man and I got along with him really well, he was another mentor of mine.   

DO you remember your debut first grade game you refereed in 1983?

Yes I do, it was Wests v Cronulla at Lidcombe Oval in Round 18 and there was a crowd of 2,200.  Terry Lamb was playing for Western Suburbs.  I was really excited, I knew it was coming, they told me keep your nose clean in Reserve Grade and your day will come.  The next game I refereed was Penrith v Newtown, I was getting all of the lower games.  Getting a couple of games in 1983 certainly made me train harder in the off season, I knew if I trained hard I would get a start in 1984.

Did you come across some sides who would always try and push the envelope?

I did, Western Suburbs were a very tough team in that period.  They had players like Bruce Gibbs, John DOnnelly and Bob Cooper and when they came up against sides such as Parramatta and Canterbury they played the game very physically.  It was around that time when Bob Cooper was suspended for 18 months.

Do you remember some of the good stinks in the Sydney comp?

Absolutely.  Once I became an established referee in Sydney the game had calmed down a bit in comparison to the 1970s.  A game Phil Cooley refereed between Souths and Parramatta Peter Sterling head butted someone.  Every week in the mid 1980s there was a brawl.  I think the NRL over reacted when they brought out the no punching at all rule, if it does happen the officials should be able to handle it. 

1988 Refereed the first game at the SFS?

It rained all game and it was a great place to referee

Your first international was the 1988 World Cup match between PNG v Great Britain, how was the atmosphere and how did you feel with the promotion?

I was excited because I hadn't done Origin and I was picked for the ARL.  The match was played in Port Moresby and the thing I remember was all of the people in the trees and they hosed the crowd off the stadium roof.  Graham Anui was the Chief of Police and was also a referee.  In that match Ellery Hanley was the captain of Great Britain, Gary Schofield played and Shaun Edwards injured his knee during the game.  The Kumuls played very hard football. 

On the flight home I was sitting next to Shaun Edwards and I gave him a Playboy magazine and he couldn't accept it, said he was very religious which I didn't realise at the time. 

Your first State of Origin in 1988?

When I returned back from PNG I was appointed Referee for the third Origin at the SCG.  NSW had Des Hasler, Ben Elias and Wayne Pearce.  Queensland were just too good, Sam Backo was unstoppable, Wally Lewis and Allan Langer were also very good.  Mick Stone and Barry Gomersall were the previous referees and I got the appointment because it was a dead rubber, so they decided to try someone new.  That was a very exciting period of my career, I think this is when I established myself as one of the top referees. 

First Semi Final?

In 1984 four referees were selected for the finals campaign and I was selected along with Barry Barnes and Miclk Stone.  My first Finals match was the Major Semi Final between Parramatta and Canterbury.  There were players like Steve Mortimer, Ray Price, David Gillespie, Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling and Peter Kelly, it was a great game of footy.  It sort of showed me how the big games ramped up, it was a real learning curve for me.

First Grand Final?

It was the 1992 Grand Final between Brisbane and St George.  Bill Harrigan had refereed the previous three Grand Finals.  Graham Annesley and I were refereeing the Semi Finals that year and I got the nod for the Grand Final.  The feeling was fantastic, it was all new, I had heard from other people what it would be like.  I had a great group of guys working with me on the day.  We worked really hard to referee a good game, no one would have beaten the Broncos that day.  Steve Renouf ran the entire field for a try with me running next to him.  I refereed the next two Grand Finals, you kept the top billing unless you buggered it up.  Mick Stone, Bill Harrigan and myself did three Grand Finals in a row. 

The following year it was the same teams and I refereed all of the up until the Grand Final.  St George were a better side in all three games and should of won the Grand Final in 1993.  Jason Stevens ripped his thumb off and I think it affected the balance of the Dragons side.  It happened in the first few minutes.

The big brawl in Origin Game 3 1993?

I refereed the first and third State of Origin Games from 1993 and NSW won the first two matches so the final one was a dead rubber.  It was Game three and it was Bob Lindners last game and the Test team had been leaked.  Martin Bella and Ben Elias were not going to be in the side.  Martin Bella took on Paul Harragon and Benny Elias took on Steve Walters.  I sent the four of them to the Sin Bin.  When the players came back Steve Walters yelled out hurry up Benny I have a Test to play next week, it was a pretty tense sort of game.

No one should ever say that Origin doesn't matter. 

What were your highlights of Refereeing First Grade football?

I always thought it was great to referee Test matches.  I went to England four times and France twice and in 1993 I did the three Tests.  All up I refereed 14 Test matches.

Who was your most respected rival?

The player I respected the most whilst at his peak was Steve Mortimer and also Peter Sterling.  When you look at players who had overall impact on the field you couldn't go past Brett Kenny who was fantastic, he stayed on his game even when his team wasn't playing well. I also respected Wayne Pearce because he had to handle Ben Elias and Steve Roach. 

The referee I respected the most would have to be Kevin Roberts, I modelled my own game on his style, he exerted his authority. 

What was the best team you came across?

The Broncos team in 1992, nobody would have beaten them.  The other side was the Canberra Raiders from 1994, Mal Meningas last game along with Laurie Daley and Bradley Clyde.  Canterbury beat the Raiders in extra time in the Semi Final but Canberra destroyed them in the Grand Final.  That Grand Final was my last match along with legend Mal Meninga who was a great leader and great player. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was offered the position in England midway through the 1994 World Club Challenge between Wigan and Brisbane.  Origin One had been played and I was nominated  for game 2.  Wally Lewis complainded after the WCC and I was removed from the Origin which was played in Melbourne.  At that time I was felt it was ditched, how you could be the top referee, how things could change on one game.  He didn't want me to referee the game because his players wouldn't play that well under me. 

In 1993 I had done a report for the English Rugby League about their refereeing structure and made a comment to Maurice Lyndsay to help the referees over there in relation to development, which basically meant coaching them.  In the end I was there for six years. 

John Quayle said even though I was leaving at the end of the year and he said if I am still competitive I will be in the running for the Grand Final.  I believe this was the best I had refereed because the pressure was off.

What followed after football?

Two weeks after the Grand Final I was off to England and that is where I stayed for six years.  In the end I ended up as Director of Rugby for the RFL over there.

When I came back to Australia I was appointed chairman of the Match Review Committee of the NRL.  It was tough, we had a number of memorable cases, for example the Danny Williams king hit on Mark O'Neill, John Hopoates flying elbow on Keith Galloway and Greg Birds knee that got him 10 weeks.  I was in the position for ten years. 

During the same time I was working at the NSW Leagues' Club as General Manager.  Rejuvenated the bottom bar area and called it the Dally M bar and then we named the whole area Blues HQ, we had memorabilia on display. 

How has the game changed since your refereeing days?

The game has closed itself down a lot, there is a lack of initiative in attacking play.  Time clock and on drop outs and scrums, less inter change this resulted in a change to how the game is being played, more attacking play.  Last years Semi Finals series were far better for it compared to last years.  Canberra and Penrith were outstanding. 

What are the changes you would like to see in regards to refereeing ?

I would like to see individual referees have a licence to develop their own styles and be  less robotic.  They are paralyzed in decision making.  The bunker is struggling with interpretation, it should be the greatest tool in the game.  The officials are making the rules ambiguous.  It is a challenging time to be a referee in my view. 

If the bunker is worked effectively then I would prefer to have one referee.  If the bunker can be maximized to its full potential then you wouldn't need two referees. 

I am in favour of the captains challenge, but it can go wrong very quickly as well. There is a big challenge to work out what is the best way for it to come together.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Eastern City Chinese at Pennant Hills

What are your hobbies?

I am also a marriage celebrant which I thoroughly enjoy.  http://www.gregmccallumcelebrant.com.au/

Did you keep a scrap book?

I did.  It will be something.  My wife is a scrapbooker and she will put it all together properly. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 25 - 08 March 2017 -Peter Fardell

  • Description
Peter Fardell played for the mighty Balmain Tigers in the Glory years of 1966 to 1971 and was part of the side in the lead up up to the infamous 1969 Grand Final win over glamour side South Sydney, only injury prevented him playing in the big one.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 25 - 08 March 2017 -Peter Fardell

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Dubbo in 1947 and moved to Kandos.  I served my apprenticeship at the Cement Works as a plumber.  I have five brothers and two sisters.

What was your first football experience?

I played Rugby League for the Knados Under 14s side.  I played Rugby Union as an Under 16s player for Rylstone. 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

I went to Canberra and had Alan Mason as coach who was an ex Balmain player.  My uncle, Maurie Anderson was a Third Grade player for Balmain.  My next coach in Canberra was Mel Cooke who was a Kiwi International.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Peter Dimond and Noel Kelly, old Magpies boys. 

First trial match

My first trial was with Easts at Redfern in 1966 and I was marking Mark Harris, I brought off a screamer of a tackle on him and my shoulder was numb for two days after that. 

I then had five years with Balmain.  Alan Mason was the coach who I was familiar with. 

In 1967 I trialled with Canterbury and I changed my mind at the last minute and went back to Balmain.  I wasn't really happy with the vibes in the dressing sheds, something to do with the atmosphere.  I couldn't gel with some of the players and everyone just seemed to be more friendly at Balmain.

What was the main difference between Canberra comp and Balmain

It was totally different.  I was over the moon to play Third Grade for Balmain.  The general skills were a lot higher, you were playing with 13 players who were very talented and you had to shine.

Third grade prermieship in 1967

In 1967 Third Grade I had Johnny McCarthy playing at half back and I was five eighth, he was one of my mentors.  Paul Cross was also coming through in those days along with a few other players. 

Reserve Grade final in 1968

We came up against Souths who had some great players in their side including the Branighan brothers, Paul Sait and Kevin Longbottom.  We knocked them off in the Final.  These players were internationals within the next four to five years.

First Grade Grand Final 1969

I was supposed to play in the Grand Final as I had been playing in the Semi Finals. 

On the Thursday night before the Grand Final we had a training session and it had been raining all week.  The coach told all of us to take our spikes out of our boots, Vic Querin left his in and it spiked me and it became infected.  On Grand Final day I was on crutches.

1969 Grand Final Celebrations

There was no parking anywhere that night, from the city to Drummoyne, the only place they could put us was at the Balmain Leagues Club Squash Courts, there was an auditorium there.  All of the boys were confident of a victory over Souths.

Personally it was pretty hazy for me being on crutches, not much dancing to be done.

Reunions

They got a scrapbook made for us, it is 100 plus pages of the 1969 season.  Each year the Balmain club hold a reunion for the 1969 Tigers squad and I attend

First Grade 1969?

I played in 11 First Grade Games that year, there was very little difference between First Grade and Reserve Grade. 

I remember thinking in Reserve Grade with some of the great names playing besides me, I was wondering how much better it could be.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Has to be my debut in First Grade.  Dave Bolton had to pull out of the side giving me a promotion to the 5/8 position in First Grade.  I came up against Tommy Bishop and John Monie in the halves of the Cronulla side.  They smashed my nose across my face, I retaliated and got square with them.

We had Arthur Beetson in our side, he was young then.  He did mature a bit and grew with experience.  We used to play squash every Tuesday.  Arthur was an unbelievably good bloke.

Who was your most respected rival?

I played against St George in First Grade and came up against Billy Smith and Brian Poppa Clay.  That was the biggest build up to a game that I had ever experienced, knowing I was coming up against those two champion players.

We played at the old Showground and we beat them, I was very happy.

I would have to say Billy Smith and Tommy Raudonikis are my most respected rivals.

What was the best team you played against?

South Sydney First Grade side was full of superstars, they would be the best team I had to come up against.  That made the victory in 1969 even better.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I always wanted to go back to Canberra and after the 1970 season I just went back to Canberra.

What followed after football?

I lived in Canberra and set up my own Roofing and Plumming business and also coached the local football side there.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game has changed heaps, I played under the Three Yard rule, you would be bashed as soon as you got the ball.  It is an expansive game now.  In the days that I played it was all up and barge type football and then set up the play.  I can't believe some of the freakish tries the wingers score these days. 

When I played for Balmain we would go for a run up the hill or lap around the paddock, now it is all clever science stuff.  I would love to be able to play in todays game, it would make me appreciate how tough it was in my day.

Once I was knocked out and woke up in the dressing sheds.  In those days if you saw a head high tackle you would all plan to get square, it was hard football.  We are all mates for life.

What are your hobbies?

Playing bowls 5 days a week

Have you kept a scrap book ?

The 1969 one is 110 pages full of old programs and photos and I bring it to the reunions we have, I also have another one.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Chinese Inn, Timmy Kitchen, Marneka

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 24 - 15 Feb 2017 - Eric Ferguson

  • Description
Eric Ferguson joined the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in 1974 as a goalkicking fullback and later joined South Sydney in 1978 until 1981.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 24 - 15 Feb 2017 - Eric Ferguson

Where did you grow up?

NSW, I was born in Casino, we lived in a little place called Rappville just outside of Grafton and the nearest hospital was at Casino.

What was your childhood like ?

There was nine of us, I had four brothers and four sisters and I was the middle one.  I copped the blame for everything and I was sort of the leader of the pack. 

We were told not to go somewhere and naturally we would just go there.  When we were living at Byron Bay we were told not to go to the lagoon because it was too far and the tide was pretty strong.  We got caught out one time, my brother buried our clothes in the sand so they wouldn't get knocked off while we were swimming, the tide rose while we were swimming and we couldn't find the clothes anywhere, we were digging up holes up and down the beach looking for them.  We had to walk home in our swimmers and when we were home out came the strap again and the old saying that this hurts me a lot more than it hurts you. 

We were pretty tight brothers, there was another time we were told not to climb on the rocks near the water.  We knew Mum loved the oysters there so we were out on the rocks gathering oysters when my brother slipped and the oysters cut up his hip and legs, he needed stitches.  The walk back to home was solemn, we were more concerned about the strap than my brothers bleeding.  It must have been a sight to see with us boys walking down the train line in our swimmers holding oysters crying and blaming each other.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

No they weren't around then

What was your first football experience?

My first football experience was of Dad playing for the Mullumbimby side, blue and gold colours.  Mullumbimby is located around 20km from Byron Bay and I used to go and watch him play, I was about 5-6 years old at the time.  Even at that age I really wanted to play, I just liked the game.  There was a youth club side but I was too young to play.  When I finally got a run I used to just run across the tryline, I didn't realise you had to put the ball down.  My older brother also played for the youth club.

It wasn't until we moved to Griffith when I was 9 years old roughly and weighing 4 Stone 7 that I finally got a run.  Griffith bronchial asthma brother, needed dry climate.  Griffith Police Boys club.  then played Yenda.

Dad was working for the railway and was playing for the Grafton Ghosts.  There was the odd one or two white blokes in the team, the rest were Koori players before I was born

When I was 11 years old onwards we watched the Grand Finals on ABC TV, they were the Canterbury and Souths years and I got hooked on the Bunnies. Bob McCarthy intercepted and scored under the posts which was impressing.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

My Dad was my football hero.  He was offered to play for Easts in the Brisbane competition.  He didn't take it because he met my mum. 

Eric Simms was my other hero, I was kicking footballs all of the time.  We would watch games all of the time, including AFL, I wanted to kick a ball like those guys.  Eric Simms was my idol at the time but Reg Gasnier was unbelievable.  I got to meet those guys when I came to Sydney and I ended up becoming good friends with Eric Simms.  I still catch up with Eric at reunions today, that is the good thing about football, you make lifelong friends. 

What got you to Sydney?

When I was going into Year 9 I started playing for the Yenda Under 18's side and I ended up captaining them in 1968.  I got a bit wild there at one stage.  My father was good mates with the Constable and he said this guy is starting to hang around the wrong crowd, I can get him a run at my old club in Newcastle.  That was it, I got my bags packed and everyone was crying and I was on the train for Newcastle and I was still only 15 years old.  When I stepped off the train they thought I was 18 years old and said you're small for an 18 year old, I said I was 15.  They put me in the Under 17's Mayfield Waratahs side and we made it to the Semi Finals and were beaten there. 

I was later picked in the Combined Newcastle Under 17's side and we played the North Sydney SG Ball side at North Sydney Oval.  South African Roy Francis was the North Sydney coach and he spoke to my guardian about me, I ran a muck that day scoring a try and kicking 6 goals.  They agreed I was a bit young still to come to Sydney to play so I went back to Newcastle. 

On presentation night the coach and my guardian came up to me and said we have had an approach from the Eastern Suburbs junior league Paddington RSL side to see if I wanted to trial with them.  They came up to Newcastle to play and I went to meet them.  They said to me why don't I come down next season for a run with them.  In the pre season I went down and had a trial with them, it was different to Newcastle, the junior teams were more professional, they had better training facilities.  The weekend the side was in Newcastle I got to know many of the boys.  

Third Grade?

I played with the Paddington RSL side and was captain in the Jersey Flegg competition.  I was boarding with a twins who played in the same side, surname the Croakes and we became really good mates.  The boys invited me to stay there and I said you better ask your parents first.   

The next step up from Jersey Flegg was the Presidents Cup with Eastern Suburbs.  The next year I was lucky enough to be selected in the Presidents Cup squad and at the end of the season was invited to play in Third Grade. 

My Third Grade captain was Bruce Stewart, he was a handy winger with the Roosters.  It was unbelievable, you knew you were playing football then.  The players in Third Grade were busting their arses to get into Second Grade and didn't want to be dropped, they had to play hard.  George Taylforth was playing for the Sharks as the goal kicker in Third Grade in those days and I knew I had to pull my head in. 

In Nine Stone Seven School Boys football side for NSW they picked double players from every position except for the fullback position on the tour to PNG.  Russell Fairfax was chosen in front of me, we had a long competitive history. Then we get to the bloody Roosters and he keeps me out again.  We are and were good mates, great camaraderie. 

It was on for young and old in those days, you had to perform your very best week in and week out in the early 1970s

Your first time in the top grade?

We played Cronulla at Endevour Field, the coach at the time was Tony Paskins.  On the day it was pouring rain and it was freezing.  It was a quagmire.  I had nerves in my guts and butterflies as big as kookaburras.  They had a flagon out of port or something before the game to warm us up.  As soon as it hit my guts my nerves were calmed, it settled me right down.  Roger Millward was playing then as well.  Arthur Beetson slipped me a pass and I only had to run 20 metres to score under the posts.  I must have went alright, I ended up getting the Frank Hyde $200 gold watch. which I cherished and gave it Mum, my parents were so proud. 

The players in the side included Arthur Beetson, Bill Mullins, John Brass and Peter Moscatt to name a few. 

In those days we played for the love of the, I had to get up at 5 am to go to work, by the time training was finished and back at home it was around 9pm.

What was the culture like at the Roosters?

It was unbelievable.  When Jack Gibson arrived he turned the place upside down, he got all the wives involved.  He got the three grades together.  Out of that he picked four different teams with a mixture of different grades to play against each other, really brought the club together.  Through the years we had functions, we sung calendar girl, we had to dress in drag, then the women got up and they sung an Elvis song, stuff like that, we had different things during the year.  BBQs to peoples places, it was a great atmosphere.  Training like this had each group competing against each other with a mixture of all different grades in each team.

In 1974 I was the Reserve Grade player of the year. 

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

I cherished every game.  When you're on that field to represent the club you are playing there is a lot of pride happening. 

Jack Gibson picked his 10 most dangerous players  in 1979 and he rated me the most dangerous goal kicker above Mick Cronin, that was a great feat. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Everyone.  If you had the ability to play first grade or any grade you were a pretty handy footballer.  Anyone who ran on the field marking me I had a lot of respect for them. 

Who was the best team you played against?

Parramatta during the late 1970s, they had a pretty handy side with players like Eric Grothe and Neville Glover on the wings and Phil Mann at fullback.  In those days you didn't try and go for the three points, you had to watch the goal kickers and Parramatta had a pretty handy goal kicker in Mick Cronin.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I just lost interest in the game, Bill Anderson was my coach at the time in Reserve Grade.

What followed after football?

After I gave the game away I moved back to Griffith and I pulled on the boots for Yenda.  My coach was Mick Fish who I played against in the Sydney competition, he played for Balmain.  The next coach was Tony Trudgett was the next coach who played for St George.  It was great to be back around my family again after so long in the Sydney competition.  The smell of the air, it was clean air into my lungs, I took my first breath and wished I had 6 pairs of lungs. 

What was it like having a career during football and ?

I preferred working when I was playing actually.  When I was playing football I enjoyed being involved in charity events.  I went to these events on several occasions and they were called the Black and White Charity and was held in Barcaldine, QLD and what it involved was three indigenous and three white players travelling there and playing a bit of football .  The funny thing on one of these trips was when  we flew back to Brisbane and there was an airline strike and we were stuck at smokin Joe Kilroys place along with my good mate Ray Blacklock for a week.

I also did a lot of work with the kids in Sydney Juvenile centres.  Someone would call the club if someone could do a talk and I was always volunteer to do a presentation. 

When I was playing for Souths I worked for the Aboriginal Children Services in Redfern after this I went to work for the Probation Parole, we had to work in those days, it was semi professional and we couldn't live off what we earnt from football.  Football was classed as a second job and we taxed around 40% in the dollar.  When I moved to the country I got out of that for a while and I worked for the Department of Water driving heavy machinery.  I then joined the Police force as an Aboriginal Liason Officer and worked in this role for 12 years and then moved into the Juvenile Justice System as a Conference Convener which entails chatting to kids who commit a crime.  We sit around in a circle and discuss what has happened, things like victim support groups and the offending support group, and I held the floor.  The kids were generally pretty remorseful. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Defence is bloody atrocious.  Terry Randall and Bunny Reilly really hit hard, they would make you stay down.  These days they are taught to wrestle. 

Play the balls, they roll them between their legs.  They have got to do something with the scrums and piss the bunker off !  The referee is getting paid some money along with the linesman, let them do their job and give them some balls.  Just award the try already, don't worry about what happened so long ago.

Did you keep a scrap book?

My Mother In Law kept a scrap book and it was pinched.  Someone wanted it more than me,  I had videos of lots of games as well.  We were broken into and they knocked it all off.  I rang the coppers, and they were three parts pissed when they turned up, they came over and wanted my autograph.  I said to them what about my videos, records and Wedding ring?

favourite restaurant

Doyles at Watsons Bay. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 23 - 29 Jan 2017 - Bruce Longbottom

  • Description
Bruce Longbottom is a Rabbitoh tragic, he grew up in the Souths juniors and played with some of the Rabbitoh legends of the game. A handy and rugged centre or winger and played many games for the famous Red and Green between 1988 to 1990.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 23 - 29 Jan 2017 - Bruce Longbottom

Where did you grow up?

La Perouse. 

What was your childhood like ?

Beautiful, surrounded by water, we played footy in the winter and surfed in the winter, running amuck.  I have two younger brothers and a younger sister.  I am 5 years older than the brother who is younger than me.  I was a Souths Juniors A-grade player, and both of my brothers played for La Perouse.  Two different sides.  I played Moore Park and Ross Harrington was the captain, I went to school with him.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I wasn't into them very much, didn't have time, every lunchtime we were in the playground playing footy and in summer we played soccer, any excuse to run around.  There would be 10-15 kids and we would get teams together and play footy and it was mostly indigenous kids.  To be honest we were not worried about the colour of the people, just so long as you were a good bloke. 

What was your first football experience?

Running around in the school yard and playing for La Perouse Under 5's when I was 3 years old.  My grandfather put a football in my hands from the moment I could walk.  I remember when I was young and playing for La Perouse I was building sand castles in backline whilst the game was going.

I was born, bred and raised in the South Sydney area, I used to sit in a tree at Redfern Oval to watch the games.  My grandfather used to take me to the games.  You could nearly go from tree to tree around the whole oval at Redfern, I am going back around 45 years ago.  Redfern Oval was a really good place.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

I always played in the centres and when I started playing representative footy I managed to go to the 1978 Grand Final around the same time.  I saw Steve Rogers playing live and idolized him.  I ended up playing against him when I was playing for Easts in a Reserve Grade match.  At the end of the game I asked him for his autograph, he smiled and said I just played against you, and then he just asked who do I make it out to?  I was 17 years old at the time. 

John Sattler, Mick Cronin are also classy men and terrific footballers and I always have a lot of time for Larry Corowa.

How was it playing for Eastern Suburbs Roosters in 1983?

I was playing in a coaching academy in 1981 and I came second out of the group.

I joined the Roosters because I had a mate going there.  I played the whole season in Reserve Grade.  I managed a stint in First Grade when Ron Gibbs broke his leg and I came on as a replacement.  After that I played the rest of the season in Reserve or Third Grade. 

The First Grade game was a real buzz, I was marking Michael O'Connor.

Playing in Reserve and Third Grade I still played against some very good footballers such as Bob O'Reilly.

After Easts?

I ended up playing for La Perouse until 1988. 

In 1988 there was an open day and George Piggins was there, I asked him if I could trial for Souths, he said to me you don't need a trial, just rock up to First Grade training.  I was playing a bit of Presidents Cup and SG Ball in the lead up to this. 

Your first time in the top grade?

It was about Round 3 in 1988 and we played the Illawarra Steelers, it was my first run on game.  I actually scored a try on debut.  It was a surreal feeling running out onto the field because a year earlier I was playing park football.  It was a Friday night televised match and the Steelers had Alan McIndoe and Rod Wishart on the wings and I was marking Greg Mackey. 

The week before I was playing Reserve Grade against Easts and I came on as a replacement in First Grade.  When you run on at the start you really notice how quick the game is, it took me by surprise. 

In Reserve Grade you could get away with a lot more cheap shots compared to First Grade.  The toughness and hardness was a lot different to what I had experienced previously. 

I remember one game against Easts, I took the ball up from the kick off and I picked the smallest forward and I thought I would knock this bloke over.  It was Trevor Gillmeister, he just smashed me.  I was knocked out on the first tackle.  Apparently kept asking the same questions until 3 am in the morning.

What was the culture like at the Souths between 1988 and 1991?

The 1988 to 1989 coach was George Piggins.  He was pretty basic with coaching, common sense, he said football is a simple game, do the simple things right.  Throw the ball wide, there were good forward packs in those days.

We had an awesome side with players like Mario Fenech, Mark Ellison, Dave Boyle, Ian Roberts, Craig Coleman, Phil Blake, Bronco Djura, Steve Mavin and Paul Roberts to name a few.  I was good mates with Graham Lyons and Ross Harrington. 

The final game of 1988 I received Man of the Match.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The friends you make out of playing football.  I tell my sons, the blokes I played against we used to belt and sledge each other and now we are mates.  When I played I never shook hands before a match because I was thinking I am going to smash you.  I would shake hands immediately after the match though.

Also the various representative sides I played with over the years.

Who was your most respected rival?

All of them.  Mal Meninga scared me, he used to block out the sun when he ran.  Eric Grothe scared me the most, see him standing at the other end of the field and I would think what have I done to deserve this?

Who was the best team you played against?

The Canberra Raiders with such an awesome backline, players like Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga, Peter Jackson, John Ferguson, and the forwards were pretty handy too with Sam Backo, Brent Todd, Steve Walters, Bradley Clyde and Dean Lance.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

Souths didn't offer me a contract in 1991, I was 30 years old and I felt quite happy to play for La Perouse.  I played in an Aboriginal Knockout competition with those brothers. 

I played against my middle brother, he captained a Jersey Flegg side, he was one of the best footballers I had seen, he popped out both shoulders during that game.  The night before the game against my two brothers I said to my youngest brother Tony that I was going to run straight at him tomorrow, the middle brother David said to me to run at him, not the smallest one.  I didn't want him to know that he hurt me in the tackle but he did. 

What followed after football?

I moved up to Port Macquarie, we have been here since 1997.  We moved for a better lifestyle for our kids.  I was working  for Linfox on the Central Coast.  We had three kids under the age of 8.  The kids have since moved on, two have moved to Sydney and one to QLD.

What was it like having a career during football and ?

I was driving a truck for the Department of Defence, Moore Park.  I was driving a truck for 8 hours a day then I would go to training.  Phil Blake was a professional footballer along with Mario Fenech and Tugger Coleman. 

I remember one night I was driving home from training and I was stuffed.  The lights went red and I kept going, the car coming through was an undercover cop.  I told him I had been to work all day and just finished training and wanted to see my boy before he slept.  He said what do you mean footy training, and I told him I am playing for Souths.  He said how about tomorrow you bring in a poster signed by the players and I will let you off?

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Where do you start?  Laying on the ground when you get tackled too hard, this never happend when I played.  The interchange is a joke.  All of the players are 110kg, they come on and off for 20 minutes at a time. 

There is no skill in football anymore, the players are not allowed to chip and chase anymore.  Jack Gibson would say you haven't got time for a committee meeting on the field.  If you think it is on then try it.  Don't come off at half time saying I should have done that.  Have a go, don't die wondering.

In our day you lay down on the ground the guy in front of you calling you all the names under the sun, and the player behind saying the same.  My kids won't watch football with me, I am very vocal and passionate. 

We hated each other with a passion on the field.  My youngest son plays rugby union, I love to watch my boys play the game. 

Did you keep a scrap book?

I did and still have it.  My mum put it together. 

favourite restaurant

Maccas.  Danny's at La Perous, Seafood. 

Demitries 5 doors at Surry Hills.  I won a voucher for $200, took my mum, grandma and my wife, we spent about $300

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 22 - 15 January 2017 - Mark Tookey

  • Description
Mark Tookey had a distinguished career starting with the inaugural South QLD Crushers side in 1996. Tookey moved to Parramatta in 1998 after the Crushers folded and played in the infamous Qualifying Final against Canterbury who came back from the dead to steal the game. Tookey played for the New Zealand Warriors from 2000 to 2004, playing in the 2002 Grand Final before spending a few season in the UK.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 22 - 15 January 2017 - Mark Tookey

Where did you grow up?

Logan, Woodrick state school

What was your childhood like ?

Come from a low social economic family, my parents worked in a factory.  My parents managed to get all of the kids through though.  I was the oldest, we used to play touch footy down the street.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I Started collecting footy cards around 1994 and then I stopped around 2000.  I didn't get in too many cards personally. 

What was your first football experience?

I started playing footy when I was four years old and never stopped.  I went one time with my Pop who was coaching the local Under Sevens side.  In those days I was pretty much watching aeroplanes or chasing shadows.  I was pretty good by the time I was seven, I was a big kid, strong for my age. 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Glenn Lazarus, Blocker, the Chief and Paul Sironen.

Getting to the Crushers?

I was playing for Logan Brothers Junior side when Brian Edwards recruited me for the Crushers.  I still had to go through a QLD wide development and a number of other cuts to get through.

Your first time in the top grade?

My First Grade debut was actually on the same day as my Reserve Grade debut.  Six or seven players were picked to play on the bench for First Grade and I had already played 30 minutes in Reserve Grade when Bob Lindner came up and said to me, you will be playing in First Grade, I nearly wet myself.  The game was against Wests and we had a rare win.  I got the ball from the kick off and I ran over the top of Steve Georgallis.

What was the culture like at the Crushers?

It was a really good breeding ground, I played in the under 21's Grand Final and we won, defeating Parramatta in the grand final.  That was the last Under 21's Grand Final. 

What made you move to Parramatta?

The Crushers folded, I was mates with Clinton Schifcofske and Troy Pezet who both went to Parramatta.  Brian Smith was the coach and this was the kick start of my career.  The players they had were very good with names like Jason Smith, Jarrod McCracken, Jim Dymock, Nathan Cayless, Nathan Hindmarsh and Mick Vella. 

We came so close to making the Grand Final, we were knocked out in the Grand Final Qualifier in the famous Final against the Bulldogs when they came back to win the game. 

Brian Smith was the best coach I ever had.

Move to Warriors?

I loved playing for the Warriors, was there for five years.  I was lucky enough to play in the 2002 Grand Final.  I used to take the first hit up from the kick off and the fans loved it, had sponsors and plenty of networking. 

Move to the UK?

I played for the Castleford Tigers first and helped pull them out of relegation along with Steve Crough.  They are fanatical over there, they are in your face.  Then I moved to the London Broncos.  London was a little bit different, they left you alone so you can just play your footy, it was refreshing. 

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The 2002 Grand Final, we were beaten but it was one of the best moments of my career.  We finished the season on top of the ladder.  The Roosters were really good with Adrian Morley and Brad Fittler.

Who was your most respected rival?

Ruben Wiki was the hardest guy I played against, every time he touched the ball or tackled you, he was one tough player.

Who was the best team you played against?

The Bulldogs were always a tough battle for us with players like Darren Britt, Steve Reardon, Ward, Solomon and Haumono during the late 90's.  Newcastle in the late 90's were also tough with Adam Muir.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was playing in England and I was 29 years old, I was in pain around the abdomen and over weight, they got rid of me for Scott Hill.  I was going to play for Redcliffe Dolphins in the QLD Cup, but my head wasn't there so I decided it was time to give it away.

What followed after football?

When I retired I caught up with Brian Edwards who was working for the Canberra Raiders and that lead to me working there as a Development Officer for six years, scouting in Logan, QLD.  A couple of stand out players I helped recruit were Josh Papalii and Edrick Lee. 

I have since left the Canberra Raiders in 2014 and started my own venture called Active Wealth Services, Superannuation and Insurance Specialists.

I was 118kg when playing in the NRL, I was one of the biggest players.  When I retired I put on heaps of weight, in the first three years I put on ten kilos per year.  I was getting pretty sick, was on my way to diabetes and a heart attack or a stroke and I already had a hernia, I knew I needed a life change.  I got really crook one weekend and that was the kick in the arse I needed.  They nicked the bowel and I dropped weight really fast. 

When I was in England I began studying personal training.  My life began to change for the better.  I went in my first marathon two years ago, 11 of us completed it.  I have a business called Big Tooks sports which involves Boot Camps, I take groups on marathons and I am looking to expand to include events such as bike rides and a marathon in Hawaii.  It keeps me motivated, stay positive and motivate others.

We did a 190km marathon and raised $15,000 for a little girl who was dying from cancer, I met her just before she died and we paid for her funeral.  Battle for Ebony was the cause and we had about 15 riders participate.  We had a lot of rookies and we rode about 10-12 hours.

My daughter has cerebral palsy so this helps me to relate to others in similar situations.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

It has changed heaps, the cameras are doing my head in.  It has become too sterile, you can't touch the head or fight anymore.  The players are all so much more athletic now, pure athletes.  Any player could play any position on the field now, it isn't like the old days with a big roly poly in the middle and the black flash on the wing.

Did you keep a scrap book?

Mum and Dad did keep one for me but there is a lot missing from moving around so much.

Favourite restaurant

McDonalds before and these days coffee club. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 21 - 01 January 2017 - Geoff Foster

  • Description
Geoff Foster was a rugged Second Row Forward who played a mountain of First Grade games during the notorious Wests sides of the 1970's. Geoff's playing days for Western Suburbs Magpies spanned from 1972 to 1978.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 21 - 02 January 2016 - Geoff Foster

Where did you grow up?

Griffith

What was your childhood like ?

We were poor, I rode a push bike everywhere, we were lucky to have a pair of thongs the bindies didn't go through.  The walk to school 5 km each way.  I was playing older kids in football because of my weight. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I did, I remember collecting Gasnier and Langlands cards as a teenager in the early 1960's

What was your first football experience?

I was playing in the local junior school side against kids three years older than me.  When I was 10 years old I was playing for North Griffith and we only had 9 players in our team and we got a flogging each week.  In the Under 18s playing for Griffith we won the competition after being in last spot.  We were equal Fifth and won every game from there to win the comp.  I got the Player of the Grand Final after scoring three tries and kicking one goal, the normal goal kicker gave me the kick.  40 years on he still says he shouldn't have given me that kick, I outscored him on the day with 11 points and he got 10, he is still filthy with me.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Probably the local blokes and tough old blokes such as Fred Griffith, Bobby Lanigan and Ron Paton, there wasn't a lot of TV in those days. 

Getting to Sydney?

I missed the first year of the Under 18's competition due to a broken arm.  The following year I played in the Group 20 Competition known for the Riverina Waratahs, in the Grand Final I scored a couple of tries and we won the competition.  The year after that I played First Grade for Riverina and the put me in the centres. 

That year I played for Country Seconds while I was still 18 and later I played for Country Firsts against Queensland, we beat them by 19 points to 18.  Our side had Teddy Goodwin and Warren Ryan.

In 1970 I trialled for Manly and was offered a contract and played against Wests, it was a night game at Brookvale Oval.  I had a year to think about it in 1971 playing for Riverina before going back to Sydney.  We were undefeated that season.

In 1972 I went to Canterbury and I was offered a contract worth $3,500 per year for three years.  I was sharing a flat with Chris Anderson.  During the trials I twisted my ankle quite badly and didn't report it, Canterbury in the end didn't want me because they thought I couldn't play.

In 1973 I had a crack in the forwards and I signed a five year contract with Wests and they advanced me $1,500 for a deposit on a house.

Your first time in the top grade?

It was a trial for Canterbury and I was playing in the centres and I came up against Ray Branighan and Bob Fulton.

A bit later that year I was offered a five year deal with the Magpies.

What was the culture like at the magpies?

Put it this way, we were bloody great mates. very tight group of players and we went everywhere together.  We went on trips here and there whether it was skiing or going to the bush. 

We made the Preliminary Finals in 1974 with a bunch of kids and from there on we made the Semi Finals every year I was there.

Some of my close mates were Pat Hundy, John Purcell, Trevor Reardon, Sheep Shit, and Dallas.  We used to drink at the Wentworth Hotel, Homebush, Dallas was a thirsty man.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The AMCO Cup win against Easts was special.  Easts had a great side with three Team of the Century players, Bob Fulton, Arthur Beetson and Ron Coote, we beat them by 6 points to 5.  I watched this game with some kids the other day and the couldn't believe how hard we hit and how hard we pushed in scrums.

Who was your most respected rival?

Artie Beetson, he went out there to nullify certain opposition players, it was good just to have him on the field.  Ron Coote, he was a great runner.  These two guys are great blokes as well, true gentlemen.

Who was the best team you played against?

The Roosters, with players like Keith Harris, Cross, Schubert, Brass, Junee, Stumpy Stevens they were a good football team

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was disheartened when a bloke can decide a game with a whistle.  You got the same money in the bush as in Sydney. 

What followed after football?

I was in the coppers still, police youth club.  I built a sports centre in Griffith and ran that for six years.  We had netball courts, indoor cricket, gym and squash courts. 

What was it like having a career during football?

The coppers looked after you if you got hurt, they would give you sick leave.  You could be sick for 6 months and still be ok.  I did play a few games against other police stations and those games were tough, they used to say you can't run without a head.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

In the old days you would see some wonderful passing, there was natural skill and the football was ad-lib.  Now the game is very structured, the players now are fitter and fine tuned.  I don't think it is tougher now, and I don't think you need more than two players in a tackle.  These days third and fourth men in are to get their line set.  Wrestling and players grabbing and holding the players up for a third man in is not good.

Did you keep a scrap book?

I do, it is in the garage.  I was rated a 10/10 by Rugby League Week in a game against St George in 1978.  This was before I broke my leg in 1978.  I think there were only three 10/10 awarded by RLW during that year.  RLW would have someone at each ground to judge.

Favourite restaurant?

I can't afford to eat out, I have had my boys on my own for 13 years, carting them around the country isn't cheap.  I am bus driver and that doesn't leave much left.  Crabs and mud crabs are my favourite food, my mate has a prawn trawler, so we are covered.  

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 20 - 16 December 2016 - Bill Annabel

  • Description
Bill Annabel joined Souths in 1976 and toured New Zealand as a Sydney Representative at the end of that season.  Bill played with Souths until the end of the 1978 season and played a year for the Cronulla Sharks in 1979.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 20 - 16 December 2016 - Bill Annabel

 

Where did you grow up?

 

Mascot, South Sydney territory 

 

What was your first football experience?

 

During School, I gave it a go, came off the field and thought I want to keep playing.  Mascot High School

 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

 

Clive Churchill lived in the same street as me when I was a kid and he signed my first football. 

 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

 

Not that I recall

 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

 

Clive Churchill and basically I just loved the game.  Mostly I went to Redfern, short bus trip.  Everyone used to get excited and the atmosphere was terrific.  As I became a bit older I went to the SCG, including test matches. 

 

What was it like playing for Souths 1976-78?

 

A mate and I played Second Division and one day we went down to Moore Park and asked to train with the Rabbitohs side and George Piggins was there and they let us train.  That weekend they were playing a trial game in Dubbo and John O'Neill pulled out due to injury and Johnny King who was the coach said I had been training well and asked if I wanted to play.  I ended up playing in all of the trial games. 

 

In Round One of the 1976 season I was in Reserve Grade and we won and the First Grade side lost.  I was promoted to First Grade for the Second Round against Parramatta at Cumberland Oval.  Terry Fahey was also brought into the Souths side around the same time.

 

What was it like playing for Souths 1976-78?

 

It was great, pretty hard team we had with the likes of George Piggins, John O'Neill, Paul Sait and so on.  To me all of these guys were legends and then next thing I was out on the paddock with them.  I made friends for life, even though now you don't see a lot of them. 

 

George Piggins was a hard man, I remember him getting Sent Off and another time he ran through the whole pack of Western Suburbs to score a try.

 

The players back then were very genuine, I remember Reg Gasnier came in after a game and said to me, you might not know who I am, I am Reg Gasnier from Channel 2 News, very humble man.

 

What made you switch to Cronulla in 1979?

 

I didn't consider myself a yes man and you had to be a yes man to Jack Gibson.  I won three Game Balls and couldn't get a game in the main team.  I always spoke my mind.  I did get some satisfaction when I ran out one year and bumped into him as a Shark and said to him we ended higher on the ladder.

 

I was probably never meant to play football because I had curvature of the spine. 

 

How was the Cronulla culture different to the Rabbitohs?

 

There wasn't much difference in culture, Norm Provan was the coach at Cronulla.  Norm Provan played in ten Grand Finals, you can't get much more experience than that and the assistant coach was Billy Smith.

 

I got to play with Steve Rogers, he came to my wedding and he was a phenomenal footballer, probably the best back I have ever seen.  You missed a lot of the action on TV, the thing with Steve Rogers was he seemed to be everywhere.  I was lucky enough to see him socially, we used to go out for Chinese and it was never too much trouble for him to sign autographs for fans or take a photo, fantastic bloke, not a big head at all.

 

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

 

We got beat, I came up against Graham Olling and Dennis Fitzgerald.  Just getting into the top grade is something I didn't think I would ever achieve.  The atmosphere of playing first grade took over and you just want to get stuck in.  I managed to stay in the First Grade for the rest of the year. 

 

Do you remember your selection for the Tour of New Zealand?

 

Adter the last game of the year I was having a beer with Chicka Cowie, Australian Selector at the time and he said to me, "Go easy on the beer mate, you're on the Tour to New Zealand"  I played and John 'Dallas' Donnelly was the other Prop and Steve Edge was the Hooker.  Tommy Raudsonikis was the Captain. 

 

It was a great experience, on the tour we won most of the games.  It was the first time I met the Sorenson brothers.  It was pretty tough football and the weather was bad, there were puddles of mud everywhere, I enjoyed playing in that sort of field.  I got to meet a lot of great players, playing in places like Waikato for example. 

 

Noel Kelly was a great coach and a great person. 

 

Graven Mild and AMCO Cup Competitions?

 

Souths won the Pre-Season Graven Mild Cup in 1978, and this was the only Trophy at club level I won. 

 

The following season the Cronulla Sharks got the Final in the AMCO Cup but I didn't play because I was under suspension because of an incident against my former club Souths four weeks earlier.

 

What other memories come to mind during your playing career?

 

I remember another rough game about five of us got Sent Off and Dallas just left the field and spat on the camera man.

 

In 1976 Paul Hayward played in his last match before getting into strife, he was a very tough player, similar to Tom Raudonikis.

 

In my fourth game I dislocated my shoulder, I strapped it and swam and played the following week.  I had two broken jaws and didn't miss a game.  They packed it in plastic and made a permanent mouth guard.

 

Paul Sait got picked for Australia from Reserve Grade,  Gary Stevens was a worker, tackled non-stop but didn't as much recognition. 

 

I played at the start of one year for 4-5 games without a contract, I didn't chase them, they approached me with some money.  At the time I had a good boss who liked South Sydney while I was truck driving and he gave me time of to play.  I was a butcher by trade.  I remember early on seeing the superstars didn't like training as well, making them more human to me.

 

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

 

Getting picked on the 1976 Tour of New Zealand would have to be my personal highlight, playing for my country. 

 

You just try and help your mates out on the field, be an honest footballer.  I just think I had a good game and the selectors happened to be there.

 

who was your most respected rival?

 

I wouldn't like to come up against John O'Neill, Craig Young or Arthur Beetson for ability.  If you come up against Steve Kneen you were up for a rough afternoon I'll tell you that.  We used to fight like cat and dog.  However when I joined Cronulla he was the first bloke to come over and shake my hand and said we'll fight them together.

 

Those days were different, I was told to turn up to training and Norm Provan will have your contract in the car.

 

What was the best team you played against?

 

Easts were still very hard to play against in those days.  Western Suburbs you knew you would need your boxing gloves on every game.  It was hard in a good way.  I remember we got beat against Wests, George Piggins scored a try and the kids were already all over the field.

 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

 

I had a existing problem with curvature of the spine, I was having a lot of trouble with the back and I knew I had the rest of my life to get through.

 

What followed after football?

 

I was driving a truck for a while.  I did a bit of coaching in the Country and worked in the mines. 

 

I was coaching Lithgow Group 10 and we made one Grand Final and were beaten, Bob O'Reilly was out there at one stage.

 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

 

It is a lot faster now.  I remember having a beer with Arthur Beetson and he said they have taken the stamina out of the game. 

 

In my days you would be working your bum off for 70 minutes and the fighting released the tension.  George Piggins was extremely tough and we as a team would help each other out in tight situations.  You respect your opposition, respect and being scared are two different things.  I remember a rubber telling me in the early days that they all hurt and they all bleed, they are all the same as you.  It was a permanent learning curve, each game I learnt something. 

 

The way players lay now days, I hate it, I had cracked ribs and limped off the field, I didn't want to show the opposition they hurt me.  

 

Today, win, lose or draw they all get the same money.

 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

 

Seagulls have a fantastic all you can eat upstairs.

 

What are your hobbies?

 

Music, especially Frank Sinatra.  I have a large collection of 1,100 Vinyl LPs and 1,200 CDs.

 

I have an 11 year old Monaro which is good to spend a bit of time on.  I am happily married.  I enjoy watching the footy and going to the odd reunion.  Last year I went to the Second Division reunion.  The hardest part about these reunions is you hear about someone has died.  In your own mind you remember them as still being fit and young like they were on the footy field. 

 

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

 

I have a couple there mate

 

Did you keep a scrap book?

 

I got a write up the I put in my scrap book because there was a photo of me getting pole driven by a Newtown player.  All I could think about was keeping hold of the ball, don't let your mates down by dropping it. 

 

My mum and sister did keep a scrapbook, the trouble is that oever the years it gets discoloured.  In those days if you made the Team of the Week you would get a carton of KB

 

I won the Courage Award of the week and the prize for that was a night on the rotating restaurant at Centre Point Tower.  To win this award we were playing Easts and Herbie Timms came off injured and we had no more replacements and I had to stay on with a dislocated shoulder and tackled with my good left shoulder.  Courage Beer gave out the award.   

 

I still have my Souths, Cronulla and Touring Australia jumpers as well as my Combined Second Division jumper.  In the 1975 Combined side we played against the Sydney Under 23s side which had some big names like Don McKinnon, Rex Williams, Greg Cox and Ken Stewart, we beat them 33-3

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 19 - 23 October 2016 - Lee Crooks

  • Description
Lee Crooks footballing career spanned an eternity, playing for clubs in the UK and Australia.  Lee played for Hull between 1980 and 1987, Leeds until 1990 and then Castleford until 1997.  Lee also played three season in the Sydney premiership, 1985 and 86 with Western Suburbs and then a season with the Balmain Tigers in 1987.  A noted goal kicking forward who also played in 19 matches for Great Britain and one for England.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 19 - 23 October 2016 - Lee Crooks

 

Where did you grow up?

 

I am a Hull lad and grew up on North Hull Estate then I moved to West Hull and lived on Willerby Rd, which is where I learned to play RL

 

What was your first football experience?

 

When I moved to Willerby Rd I went to a school called Ainthorpe, the first sports class we had the teacher asked who wanted to play for the school rugby team so we all put our hand up and I was the last one picked. I ended up being captain of the team and things went from there

 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

 

We played in a league competition which we won as U11s but the highlite has to be winning a 7 a side comp with the school which use to be held at Craven Park Hull KRs ground before their home games. My school kit was actually red and white which went down well with the home crowd but I was actually a Hull FC supporter so wasn’t happy as they play in black and white

 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

 

No

 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

 

Steve Norton was my child hood hero and it was a tremendous honor to play in the same team as him when I made my debut as a 17 year old. I then went on to marry his sister which was even better

 

Experiences playing for Hull?

 

Lots of them, from making my debut against Salford at the Boulevard, 3 challenge cup Finals, 2 John player Finals, 2 Premiership Finals, 4 Yorkshire Cup Finals and the League Championship, we had a very successful team and playing with 4 Kiwi Internationals 2 Australin Internations one being Peter Sterling who was absolutely outstanding, what more could you ask for? Probably to win at Wembley would be the only thing

 

Can you explain the feeling of being the youngest Great Britain Test forward and what the Test match was like?

 

Quite surreal really, I was brought up in a grown up world and I also had an Ego which helped me as I knew I was good at rugby, and from the moment I was picked I new I belonged in that environment so nothing really phased me

 

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

 

The game was at the Boulevard and it was very muddy so was hard to play on. I can remember Knocker saying to me just run into space and I will get the ball to you which is was I did, apart from that I cant remember much more

 

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

 

Being made Captain of Hull FC I felt very privileged to be given that role at the age of 21

 

What brought you to Wests?

 

I got a phone call from Paul Harrison who was the sports editor of the Sun Newspaper in the UK and asked me if I fancied playing in Australia as a club wanted to sign me. This was around February of 85, that club happened to be Wests and the rest went from there, I played at Wembley that year v Wigan and then flew out the week after

 

What was the Wests culture like?

 

Different to the one at Hull as they were a team which had success written all over them, but at Wests we had to fight for everything on and off the pitch. This really excited me and I saw it as an amazing challenge undoubtedly made me a better player

 

Your one year with the Balmain Tigers?

 

Yes and very disappointing one really. I wanted to challenge myself in a different way and obviously play with my team mate Gary Schofield which I was extremely excited about but unfortunately Hull decided to sell me to Leeds and that really upset the apple cart some what, so I had to fly back to the UK missed the National Panasonic Cup Final then got injured when I came back. I was probably in the best condition physically ready for the challenge but it just didn't happen for me.

 

What was the main difference between playing in Australia and the UK?

 

For me in my position it was the fact that a lot of teams went very much one out and had lost the skill set of passing especially in the forwards so this made it easier for me to make an impact

 

Who was your most respected rival?

 

I had the up most respect for everyone over their but probably more so for players who I played against internationally, so the likes of Blocker, Wayne Pearce, Les Boyd

 

What was the best team you played against?

 

The 1982 Australian side was by far the best team in my opinion

 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

 

I had a lot of problems with my knees and the game was getting quicker, I played against Oldham in March of 97 and someone skipped around me to score and I knew then that the time was right

 

What followed after football?

 

I went into coaching for a while then worked for the RFL managing their Talent ID Programmes, and now I run a RL Academy in Newcastle which is part of Newcastle Thunder, Ive been involved in the game in some way since I finished playing

 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

 

Yes remarkably, very much more faster and the advent of full time players has made it a very athletic sport, whther that is for the best will be debated for a long time to come

 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

 

Goucho’s in Leeds

 

What are your hobbies?

 

Don’t have any, unless you can call watching rugby matches one

 

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

 

No

 

Did you keep a scrap book?

 

My wife did, I would just like to say that playing in Australia was a remarkable experience and one I will never forget, I have made lots of friends.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 18 - 06 October 2016 - Chris Close

  • Description
Chris Close played for Manly from 1982 to 1987 before moving to the Gold Coast Seagulls the following year until the end of 1991.  Close played in 14 matches for Queensland from 1979 to 1986 and also represented Australia between 1980 and 1985.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 18 - 06 October 2016 - Chris Close

Where did you grow up?

South East QLD and then Rockhampton, my father was a policeman, so we moved around a bit.

What was your first football experience?

Living in Harvey Bay, my brother was older and training with the football side after school, I was 6 years old at the time.  I wagged the bus, snuck down to the footy oval where my brother was playing and hid behind the bushes and watched them train for about 5 minutes, tackling, running the ball, I loved it.  I couldn't sit there any longer, I flew out behind a tree and tackled a grade 7 boy.  My brother chased me but couldn't catch me.  My old man was waiting for me and when I got home he kicked my arse. 

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

As a kid a few of us made the rep scene whilst at Primary school at a carnival at Gympie. 4 of us got picked for Wide Bay and went to camp, we stayed at a pub.  We went to the pictures, played the game, was the only one from Proston (Proston had a population of 500).

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I grew up pre footy card days.  Rugby League Week was my bible, I used to be waiting for Dad to bring it home each week, I liked to read the players ratings.  The Sydney games were on at 11pm on Tuesday and I would stay up to watch it.  I was interested in the Sydney competition when I was a kid. 

I went to watch the English touring side play at Wondai and I was lucky to get Tommy Bishops jersey, my Mum conned it out of him.  I used to play backyard footy in that jersey everyday for years with the McDowell brothers who lived three doors down.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Bob Fulton, he was an amazing player, also liked Graham Eadie, he was a powerfully built fullback at 5ft 10 14 1/2 stone.  The Rabbitohs were my first team to support then manly.  The Rabbitohs players, I liked were Paul Sait, Gary Stevens, Dennis Pittard, Ron Coote and Bob McCarthy.  As kids we got to watch the replay of the big games.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

I was playing for Beaudesert Under 19's team when I was 16, in the Gold Coast competition.  I made the Gold Coast representative side when I was 17.  At the age of 15 I bought a set of weights, I didn't know what to do exactly but started anyway and I put on 11-12kg in a short period of time and that helped me get into first grade. 

Dad went to Cunnamulla and bought a hotel and I was working in the pub.  At the time I was signed for Beaudesert and I had signed a contract with Ronny Willis for $1,000 in 1978.  Cullamurra asked me to play for them and asked what I was earning and I said $1,500, they then counter offered me with $2,000 and they already had the contract there ready to go, so I signed.  I had to ask them, why would you sign someone you haven't seen play, Bobby Banks was their only other player who was an International, who was 30 years prior to me.  We asked your mother they said, she said he is a pretty good player.  That year I scored 58 tries and we won the comp. 

My first game playing for Valleys, Gerry Fitzpatrick passed me the ball in the backline.

Gerry Fitzpatrick gave me the ball in the backline.  Steve Stacey was built like a brick shit house and he hit me hard I was concussed from the impact.  I actually scored a try which I can't remember, however I must have been playing poorly because Gerry said "get him off the field, he has asked me what the score was 100 times".  I woke up at 11 pm at night in a Marta hospital bed.  The nurse said "if you ask me  the score again I will knock you out again.  When I was in the ambulance on the way to the hospital apparently I was saying, c'mon, let's all hop in for a ride.  I had my parents in law and about five mates from Beaudesert. 

That year I went to watch the first Interstate match at Lang Park with Billy Johnstone and my mate Tuite, who had one wooden leg.  We got on the piss pretty heavy before the match and to get into the ground we climbed the 12 foot brick wall behind the score board.  We scaled the wall only to be confronted by a big copper and he noticed Tuite hobbling and he asked what is wrong with his leg, It is wooden I replied.  The cop said you blokes deserve to stay in the crowd then.  Tuite was running down the hill and then we heard a big yell as he fell and his wooden leg came free a flew in the air.

After six weeks there was an intersate game and I didn't make, WQLD got belted by NSW at Lang Park and then bugger me dead the very next game they dropped Mal Mneninga and partnered me with a bloke by the name of Mark Payne.   

I played in the 1979 Grand Final with Wally Lewis.  We beat Souths 26-0 against Mal Meninga.  

Experiences playing for Redcliffe?

The greatest experience was having Arthur Beetson at the club.  In 1980 at Redcliffe we had Frank Stanton as coach.  in 1981 Arthur Beetson was Captain Coach, what a character he was, I learnt a lot from Arthur. 

What was it like when you joined Manly? Main differences between Brisbane and Sydney comp?

Bit disappointing for me, I was suspended for the last game when playing for Redcliffe, and we went down in the last 30 seconds of the Grand Final.  The suspension carried over to my new club Manly, so I was disappointed.

Do you remember your debut for Manly

It was against Wests, I scored two tries at Lidcombe oval.  About the fifth match we went to play the Raiders and I was carried off in that one as well.  I tackled someone and Bruce Walker swung around and his legs hit my leg and tore my medial ligament, I was out for 15 weeks.  The speed of the game was the difference, advanced in training, we trained more than in the Brisbane competition.  Once you got used to that there no different

You only ever played for QLD, what was the feeling like when the Sydney based Queenslanders played in Origin?

We didn't know what to expect, there was an air of expectation from Arthur who galvanized it from the beginning.  We were really focused on the job and felt obliged to give them a hiding.  NSW weren't prepared for what we did, their forward pack was as strong on paper as ours.  We exploded, Wally and Mal unleashed on them. 

Your debut for Australia?

I got sent off against the New Zealand Maoris, there was a war hut before the game for 1 week.  We played at Hastings in front of a large Maori crowd, dressing shed was a house at the end of the field.  Frank Stanton was the coach, he told us whatever you do, don't retaliate and don't start any blues.  I scored a try in the first half.  We were getting beaten at half time, there were head high tackles, stiff arms and late tackles, Henry Periciful was the referee.  In the second half, Tom Raudonikis was inside me and ran the ball up from a scrum and one bloke tackled him, the next hit him in the head and another belted him, so I ran and hit the first bloke and he went down and the second went down then I hit the third guy, then I hit John Lang.  Kevin Tamati was running at me, I jumped Clayton Friend and hit him between the eyes and knocked him out.  I was Sent Off and I gave the finger to the crowd because they were giving it to me.  When I was on the sidelines I looked back and the fight was on again so I ran back on with the trainer Alf Richards hanging onto my jersey trying to pull me back, and I was into it again.  The ref sent me off a second time (What the F!#$ hell you doing, I have already sent you off once, get off once) 1980.  The game ended up in a draw.  Frank Stanton walked in the sheds where I was waiting, he was the second last person to walk in.  His Cranky Franky, his face turned into a smile.  Tamati was in hospital for 4 days after that.

The last game we played was against Auckland.  they had a send off at the Auckland leagues club.  Aussie and Kiwis were sitting together and next to me was Kevin Tamati.  He said fuck you can hit hard. we shook hands and we had a beer.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

First origin win.

The first time I was named in the Australian side.  You never, ever think you will make it that far.  I Don't know how that transition happened from playing barefoot in the bindis transferred into playing for my country.  All of the miles mum and dad drove to take me to the footy finally paid off.  I was handed down a pair of running spikes, I used to run around the house to get more speed.  All of my friends went on a road trip to WA to go surfing, I remember my Dad said think to think of this, you don't want to be sitting in a pub in five years time watching the footy and thinking that could be me.  I then felt maybe I am a chance.  It was only two years later I made the QLD side and then a year after that I made I made the Australian side.  My father never said much in those areas, so when he said something I listened.

How was the culture when you joined the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1988?

We were surrounded by legends such as Bob McCarthy as coach, Billy Johnstone was captain, Ken Irvine as sprint coach, Larry Corowa, Sprint coach, Elwyn Walters football manager, two directors were Peter Gallagaher, John Sattler and Bob Hagan, and Graeme Langlands  as a backs coach.  It was an exciting time.  Our first win was against the Broncos.  I won man of the match in that game.  Geoff Bagnall and Ron Gibbs had great games. 

You had many years in the QLD camp as manager?

It was a great privilege, I was never treated with any disrespect.  I Enjoyed my time there as well and survived about 6 coaches by the time I gave it away. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Mick Cronin, he was enormously strong, resilient and a good goal kicker

What was the best team you played against?

Parramatta during 1982 and 1983.  I could have been part of it, Jack Gibson said.  He tried to get me to Parramatta, the only reason I didn't is because Ken Arthurson came on the scene.  We spoke to the secretaries of the clubs like Dennis Fitzgerald.  The first thing he said is he will help me buy a house a house by the beach and he never had to ask anyone else for approval on his promises.  He met every one of them. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

At the Gold Coast I was doing all the work and other players were coming there for big money and not performing, I wasn't being offered similar of money. 

What followed after football?

I went back to the bush.  I was going to coach under 23's at the Gold Coast but the contract was being mucked around.  I did one year captain coach at Brothers.  I coached at Tieri, a mining town with a drug problem and it needed leadership and that's what I did.  I captain / coached there and they won the premiership the following.  I got kicked in the head in the Grand Final and had to leave the field the year before they won the comp.  I was all starry eyed.  I had to get it stitched and I was off the field for 25 minutes and in that time the opposition scored 18 points and ended up winning the match by two points. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The rules have changed dramatically, players are protected.  You couldn't run the way they run now when I played, they would take your head off! I don't like two referees on the field, they compete with each other.  The element of surprise is gone. 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

We are blessed mate these days as far as choices are concerned.  Thai restaurant in Darwin called Heddermen is my favourite, it's amazing

What are your hobbies?

Looking after my grandson, Tyler.  He's having his first year of football at the moment

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

My wife was a mad collector of news articles, she collected a fair bit of memorabilia over the years. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 17 - 08 September 2016 - Michael Bolt

  • Description
Michael Bolt played for the Illawarra Steelers from their Maiden year in 1982 through to 1990.  A one club man and holds the record for the most consecutive matches for the club, 187 grade matches.  Michael was also the Steelers player of the year twice, 1983 and 1987

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 17 - 08 September 2016 - Michael Bolt

Where did you grow up?

Wollongong, family down here, Muwwimba. 

What was your first football experience?

St Teresa, as a 6-7 year old, spent a lot of time Picking flowers apparently

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

TV wasn't about much then, maybe I watched one or two games

1982 Steelers moments?

I was Captain of the Third Grade side and was the in the first Steelers side to run out.  I was on a New Jersey exchange as an accountant.  We used to train 5 nights a weeks.

My first two games were in Third grade and then I got a Reverse Grade promotion.  However I was  bumped up to first grade during this game and I ended up winning the man of the match award and that was the first win to the Steelers.  I was then dropped.  I got my chance because Barry Jensen was injured.

The atmosphere was crazy, everyone was loving it.  The Steelers were everyone's second side. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

They weren't a big part of it then.  I was a Balmain supporter and I met Noel Maybury one day. 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Balmain players in general

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

Ken Stewart was the opposition hooker for Souths, Muzza was the half, Mick Carberry and David Boyle were also in the Rabbitohs side.  That night was pretty big, third game in and we beat Souths, I can't remember where we went but it was a big night.  In those days you were lucky to get your shorts and socks at the end of the season.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Getting that record of the most consecutive matches was a great achievement.  There were only three games that I didn't play the 80 minutes, and that was because I was coming off injured.  Only game I missed in 1982 was the last game due to a law exam.  There was no interchange back then.  I was travelling 100km plus a week to training and back home.  The Dunlop KC26ers shoes were the ants pants, before that you were training in dunlop volleys

Who was your most respected rival?

Max Krilich, Steve Edge.  You used to get belted in the scrums as a new kid.  Ben Elias came along and they changed the rules. 

What was the best team you played against?

Parramatta 1982-86.  Canterbury  late 80s and then Brisbane

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

Defining moment was when I was playing Reserve Grade against North Sydney and the opposing hooker was giving me the shits so I just hit him.  I was getting cranky.

What followed after football?

I was an accountant by profession, seventh hospitality venture, bars, night clubs and stuff.  Establish them from scratch.  Red Square, Wollongong, come in and meet me for Vodka, Tapas bar.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Professionalism, when I finished the game was semi pro. Within 4-5 years it was the Super League battle.  Teams have to go to extremes to get the results.  Contesting the scrums doesn't happen today, two wingers and a fullback get into the scrum these days, it is a joke.  There was a bit of sorting out, crack in when I played, it was vicious but there was respect.  It toughened up, today there are too many show ponies and the media coverage is extreme.  When I played there was never any lipping on, you would just get a smack.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Lorenzos across the road, Italian food.

What are your hobbies?

Work, starting businesses and developing them.

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

Not really, few given to me over time, still in boxes. 

Did you keep a scrap book?

Mum did, kept all the jumpers framed, school boy ones.  

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 16 - 01 August 2016 - Mick Delroy

  • Description
Mick Delroy made his debut for the Parramtta Eels in 1986 and managed to play in the Grand Final that year, where he was knocked unconscious.  Mick played for Parramatta until 1988 and had two seasons with Easts until 1990

Heroes of Yesteryear, Interview 16 - 01 August 2016 - Mick Delroy

Where did you grow up?

Lalor Park in Western Sydney and Quakers Hill

What was your childhood like ?

Basically footy and playing with mates after school, they spend more time inside these days. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Not really, remember you could make a picture on the back when Cronulla were in the Frand Final

What was your first football experience?

A fellow from Primary School asked me to go down and play.  I don't remember the first game or season, I was about 6 years old at the time.  The first game I remember going to watch was the 1977 Grand Final Replay, I was in the Bradman.  I also wrote a letter to Johnny Kolc asking him how to tackle and he wrote back to me. 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Virtually all the Parramatta side especially from 1981.  When I was 9 or 10 I followed Ray Higgs as a footballer as well.

Your first time in the top grade?

My debut was in 1986 against Souths at Redfern Oval.  We didn't take the Minor Premiership off them until the final round.  Souths had some good players in that side including Phil Gould and the Rampling brothers.

What was the culture like at the Eels in 1986?

A bunch of good blokes, very humble, normal people very close.  Ray Price lead by example along with The Crow.  We had a pretty simple game plan, stop them scoring and do it on the back of that.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The 1986 Grand Final is the highlight.  I also enjoyed playing Reserve Grade and Third Grade at Parramatta. 

What made you switch to Easts?

I thought I needed to do something different, all of my relatives come from Bondi Junction, I actually regretted within hours of making the deal.  I Always wanted to go back to Parra but I became a father and that's when my priorities changed.

Who was your most respected rival?

Noel Cleal, I tried to tackle him a few times and he just brushed me off.  Michael O'Connor was great as well.  I respected the whole backline of the Eels as well 

Who was the best team you played against?

The Dogs during the 80s, they played a tough / hard game of football.  They pushed the physical side to the very limits.  Farrar didn't miss at all.  I played with Steve O'Brien and Paul Langmack in SG Ball. 

How was the lead up to the grand final?

I remember everything until I was knocked out in the game.  I started coming around, I was there  subconsciously, but I wasn't really there.  I was fine after the match, Andrew Farrar apologised to me after the game I didn't know what for.  My first year we won the Third Grade Grand Final.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

When my first son was born, I wanted to spend more time with my family.  I ended up having two boys, they are the best thing that has happened to me.

What followed after football?

When I stopped playing I became a full time dad

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The old Canterbury side would struggle with todays rules.  10m rule makes things different and the game is faster overall.  I miss the arm wrestle, big guys had to play a lot minutes and the little bloke could take advantage of the tired old blokes. 

Did you keep a scrap book?

My mother did, photo albums put away at house

What is your favourite restaurant

All you can eat bistro, Blacktown Workers.

 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 15 - 27 June 2016 - Adrian Vowles

  • Description
Adrian Vowles started his career with the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1993 and later switched to the Cowboys in their maiden year.  Adrian played State of Origin in 1994 and later spent seven years playing club football in the UK.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 15 - 26 June 2016 - Adrian Vowles

Where did you grow up?

Country town of Cunnamulla some Charleville

What was your childhood like ?

I grew up on a property, sheep, cattle, riding horses, shooting, it was a great up bringing. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yes, in the 80s I collected all of the Sydney and Brisbane competition ones, bubble gum cards.  Unfortunately my mum threw them away, I am gutted.  I had every poster on the wall, collected every Big League

What was your first football experience?

Playing for the Cunnamulla Rams when I was 8, I wasn't that interested actually.  My first came I made a break, hurdled the fullback and scored under the posts and from that moment I loved it.  I got in trouble off the old man for hurdling, I could have been hurt, 2,300 acre property there was lots of work to do and I wouldn't be able to do much if I was hurt.  On a property that size you are pretty active, always doing something.  In those days we played on the full field with no shoes and a leather football.  Kick at goals were with the old toe poke method. 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Wally Lewis.  I was a centre as a kid so I idolised Mick Cronin and Steve Rogers as well. 

Your first time in the top grade?

It was against Canterbury in 1993 in the Tooheys Challenge.  I was marking Jarrod McCracken, I was 86kg, I put a good shot on him.  Mal Meninga, McGaw were other players of the day who I came up against in my first year.    

What was the culture like at the Seagulls with Wally Lewis as Coach?

Wally was the best player but not the best coach, he struggled to get the best of his players.  Personally I wanted to play good for him because he was my idol.  I nearly got to play with him against the touring Great Britain side.  I received a call up to play against  Great Britain after working 3/4 of the day as a cabinet maker, unfortunately Lewis cancelled playing at late notice, was at work 3/4 of the day as a cabin maker.  I came up against Lee Crooks and John Devereux.  I would have loved to of played outside of Wally Lewis.  I was in Reserve Grade and sat on the bench for about 20 games times before getting a run in First Grade. 

What is it like playing for the Cowboys 95?

It was great, we would get 25,000 to a game regularly and we only won two games that year.  I played in the first game against Canterbury and I was sent off.  It was for a high shot on Matt Ryan, my shoulder hit him and it happened in the first 5 minutes.  I had never even been sin binned in my career before that.  The first week all of the players were laying the turf on the hill to get the ground ready for the game.  I guarantee you wouldn't get the players of today to do that. 

Can you express the feelings of pre game state of origin and once you were on the field? 1994

I was a late inclusion because Steve Renouf was injured and I received a phone call advising that I was on standby, it was the best feeling.  In 1980 I listened to the first State of Origin on the wireless and I said to myself then that I wanted to play Origin one day, so I got my dream, it came true.  Mal Meninga was captain and in the dressing room Alfie Langer was vomiting.  I was thinking if he's that nervous how should I be feeling, but it turns out he vomited before each game.  The game itself was a lot faster and tougher, it felt great to be out there in front of 87,000 people at the MCG.

How was your experiences playing in England, you were there for many years with a few clubs?

I was only going over for 1 year and coming back, 1 became 2 then turned into 7 years.  They were the best times of my footballing life.  They are very passionate people over there.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The mateship is massive, all over the world, good networking. 

Grand Finals in the bush as a kid.  Playing for Charleville we won the grand final in the Under 17's and we drank for 2 weeks. 

Playing in the State of Origin.  

I miss playing every day, miss going to training, joking and laughing etc. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Mal Meninga, he was a legend in my eyes.  Andrew Ettingshausen and Allan Langer as well.

Who was the best team you played against?

Brisbane Broncos, they had a star studded side. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

In 2006 was just playing local comp with Burleigh Bears after retuning back from England.   

What followed after football?

I was the CEO at the Burleigh Bears.  I also worked at Superannuation company.  I do a bit of commentary for cChannel 9 for QLD Cup, all of these games are broadcast in PNG.  I was Assistant Coach of the QLD side and the coach of the Jilaroos.  It is so good to coach them, we went over the Auckland Nines and the All Stars as a curtain raiser for the main one. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

They are bigger, stronger and faster now.  They don't throw the ball around like they used to.  We have  got to keep the little guys in the game.  Loved the 80's with players such as Horrie Hastings, Craig Coleman, Phil Blake, Steve Mortimer, Peter Sterling. 

Did you keep a scrap book?

I've got a few things, bit of a hoarder. 

Favourite restaurant

Burleigh, Pigs and Pint

Did you collect your own footy cards?

Yes, none in England. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 14 - 24 June 2016 - Mike Eden

  • Description
Mike Eden was a journey man, playing with four clubs during his career between 1981 and 1989.  Mike started with Manly in 1981 and moved to the Roosters in 1983 then Parramatta in 1985 and finally ended up with the Gold Coast GIants in their maiden year in 1988.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 14 - 24 June 2016 - Mike Eden

Where did you grow up?

Lived in Rockdale until 8 years old then Allambie Heights(Manly)

What was your first football experience?

Watching Uncle Harry Eden play for Roosters 1966- Era of Junee, Mayes, Quayle Reilly Larpa Stewart etc Coached by Jack Gibson

As a child what was your most memorable experience of rugby league ?

1971 semi final series and GF- Grand Final Day St George lost in all 3 grades- Harry played in first Grade

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

No but had lots autographed – not really a collection

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Harry Eden, Graeme Langland Billy Smith. 

Your first time in the top grade?

Went on as a replacement and kicked a goal against Newtown. Funny it doesn’t show on my record. First game picked in First Grade V Canberra in 82 Losing at half time “Arko” cleared the dressing room and said we would walk home if we lost- we won thankfully

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

1982 and 1986 Grand Finals, even though I didn't get a run on, it was great to be part of the squads and the Rothmans Medal as well.

Who was your most respected rival?

Wally Lewis and Peter Sterling

Who was the best team you played against?

1984 Combines Brisbane side in the Panasonic Cup

What followed after football?

Legal career ups and downs- 4 sons- three grown up 2 grand kids lots of charity work for Autism and water boy duties for Group 9 team Albury Thunder

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Like all subsequent era’s the fitness, size and skill levels have increased

Did you keep a scrap book?

No- have some paper clippings from soccer days in Rockdale and som RLW clippings – not much

Did you collect your own footy cards?

No

favourite restaurant

Barefoot – Whistler St Manly & Hogo’s Manly Wharf

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 13 - 29 May 2016 - Alan Fallah

  • Description
Alan Fallah played for Western Suburbs from 1984 to 1990.  Alan Fallah has been a high school teacher for nearly 30 years and gave up a stint with Canterbury to attend university. Alan represented Country

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 13 - 29 May 2016 - Alan Fallah

Where did you grow up?

Chester Hill, went to school with Terry Lamb and played SG Ball with Canterbury.  My family is Lebanese and they wanted us playing soccer.  I changed to Rugby League for the under 11's

What was your childhood like ?

My family is Lebanese and I played backyard football with my brothers.  All of my brothers are Canterbury supporters.  We used to watch NSW v QLD matches religiously.  I hated losing, even as a kid.  I was the oldest of the brothers.  

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yes, bubblegum cards, I used to swap them with other kids.  I wanted to get the Canterbury ones at the start but ended up wanting them all.  They were like gold, as I got older I still collect the cards.  I don't know whatever happened to them.  It was always my dream to get my own footy card, my thinking was if I was able to get my own footy card then I know I made it.  In the early 1970s I used to collect Ross Warner, Ken Irvine, Graeme Langlands and Les Johns, I would stick them in a book.  I remember smelling them, the bubblegum was a key feature of the cards in those days.  The day you found one in a packet you hadn't seen before, it was magic.  In those days the kids would flick the cards against the wall, I wouldn't risk it with mine, I wasn't a gambler. 

What was your first football experience?

My Dad and Uncle used to take me to Canterbury matches at Belmore Oval.  Also as brothers we used to play a lot of footy in the backyard.  I joined Rugby League in the Under 11s, halfway through the year, Mum relented halfway through the year because I wasnt doing any sport, they had me at every position except for hooker.  We used to watch it on tv, this made me want to play it, league was my favorite game all along.  When I started playing at school things took off, I was a bit, bigger, faster and more skillful. 

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

I loved the blue and white hoops, striped jersey of the Canterbury side during the 1970's.  I liked all of the Canterbury players, like Gary Dowling, Bernie Lowther and Ron Costello.  As I got older I liked the hooker George Peponis, and I was graded at the same club as Peponis.  He  came up to me at training early on and said he was on the bench for 12 weeks before he got a run, so keep my chin up, he did a bit of scrummaging coaching with me. 

George was a classic example of an Ethnic Guy who came good.  His Greek mother used to come to training.  He would explain things to his mother at training in Greek langauge. 

Your first time in the top grade?

I played and Third and Reserve with Canterbury and played with Chris Anderson, the Mortimer and Hughes brothers.  I was still at school and Tim Pickup called out my name, it was a big thrill, this great player knowing me by first name basis.  Graeme Hughes used to ask me if I needed a lift to training.  When I finished high school I went to University at Wollongong and I played in the local Illawarra compeition

My first teaching gig was at Oberon.  I was the Captain coach out there and played for Western Division. 

At the age of 25 years I was graded with Wests, by this stage I had already played for NSW Country and for Country in the AMCO Cup.  In 1984 I as signed by Wests and played Reserve Grade and I injured my knee in just the second game.  I made it back for the last 7-8 games of the season.  My First Grade debut was against Illawarra at Wollongong.  I played all the rest of the games in first grade, but broke my arm at the last game.  Three years I never missed a game. 

I nearly played for Illawarra in 1982, Michael Bolt wanted both of us to play for the Steelers that season.  Barry Jensen was the other hooked.  I played with Bolt at Illawarra (Wollongong)

What was the culture like at the magpies?

We lost a few players at Wests, the club were fighting with the corporate (NSWRL).  I played at Lidcombe, think moving to Campbelltown saved them.  I had offers to go to other clubs however I found it hard to leave the club once you start there, I really enjoyed the footy at Wests.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

Early on I played against Great Britain for Illawarra.  I nearly missed the game, I made a few runs, we went down narrowly, they had some tough forwards. 

Playing for NSW Country and 1980 Country Seconds, there were some big names in the city side, I came up against Ken Stewart and in the second half John Lang.  Frank Hyde gave me a few wraps which was a thrill.  Country firsts at Newcastle, the Sydney side was virtually the Australian team with Craig Young as captain.  We had a guy sent off in the first 10 minutes, he was a nutter, John Gosher, hit someone with a high shot.  It was good playing for Country. 

The dream was playing first grade, playing my debut in First Grade game was the biggest thrill, and a couple of times I captained the team.  Ian Schubert drove a liquor truck, he was terrible with the referees.  He used to argue with them all the time,  I was a bit more diplomatic.  I was only captain half a dozen times.  I made it to 100 First Grade games for a Foundation Club with was a big thrill, considering I started so late. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Early on Mario Fenech, Ben Elias and Royce Simmons.  The Walters brother came through later on.  My last season I played against Brisbane, winning 3 or 4 against the feed, tied heads against the current Australia hooker.

Who was the best team you played against?

Manly were a strong side.  The biggest hiding came against Canterbury, it was a TV game at the SCG, it was embarrassing. 

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

The 1990 season I played a Reserve Grade games, I didn't get along with John Bailey, the coach, he didnt like my age, didnt matter what i did he wasn't going to pick me.  I went over and played a season in England, which was a great experience. 

What followed after football?

I focused on teaching, and refereed for  4-5 years. I gave it away when my kids were growing up.

What was it like having a career during football and ?

It's very important, rl you think it can last forever, but it only lasts a few.  The biggest contract i was getting was the same as teaching.  Even if I was playing now I would be doing some sort of training.  We trained 4-5 times a week when I played.  Some clubs encourage    I enjoy it, the whole culture, I even taught in england, enjoyed the teaching experience.  Some kids different ....positive see ex students start own families, business etc. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

It is a different game altogether, it is less skilful, more athletic.  The game has sped up a lot, I would be suited to todays game as a dummy half.  The scrummaging rules changed during my days which hurt me, I was quite as a good scrummaging hooker.  More endurance when I played, now its power. 

Did you keep a scrap book?

Had one for awhile, for my kids to see it.  Would have liked to be more vigilant with it. 

favourite restaurant

All Asian, Creek food, seasfood, thai chinese, vietnamese, my mums the best cook ever.  My wife and I go out a lot 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 12 - 24 May 2016 - Glenn Nissen

  • Description

Glenn Nissen was graded at Penrith in 1986 and then moved across to Canterbury in 1988 to play in the Grand Final winning side.  Glenn remained at Canterbury until 1991 until he returned to Penrith in 1992.

Glen now runs a successful health and nutrition business at http://www.glennissen.com/

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 12 - 24 May 2016 - Glenn Nissen

Where did you grow up?

I grew up at Warragamba Dam which comes under the Penrith juniors.  Group 6 until I was in the Under 12's, then I went to Saint Dominics as a teenager. Greg Alexander, John Cartwright and Steve Robinson were in the year above me. Greg Alexander was the most gifted player I ever saw play. 

What was your childhood like ?

I was one of three brothers.

Phil Gould was my coach for the Under 13's I played for in 1978 and he was playing for Penrith at the time.  Phil was one of the youngest captains of the Penrith Panthers, he may well have been the youngest ever captain. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yes, I loved the footy cards.  I remember the pictures on the back of the cards which created a Grand Final scene, and there was a strip of gum.  I would say that I was a big collector of the footy cards, we flicked cards against the wall and the closet to the wall collected the lot.  There was four of us, brothers and there was always a fight over who got the bread / milk because whoever went to the shops would get the pack of footy.

What was your first football experience?

I was a big Penrith fan, I loved watching them, they were known as the Chocolate Soldiers in those days.  I put the Penrith Amco Cup jersey on my pet dog to watch it on the screen.  All of us brothers went for different sides, one goes Manly one the went for the Bears.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Bill Ashurst, Mick Kelly, Kevin Dann, Ross Gigg, Terry Wickey and  Steve Rogers

Your first time in the top grade?

I made my debut in Third Grade off the bench in 1984.  I came out of the Flegg side.  I made my run on in Reserve Grade in 1985 against St George, we were got flogged by 50 points.  The Dragons side was fierce, with the likes of Robert Stone, Bruce Starky, Henry Tatana, Barry Beath, basically the old St George first grade forward pack.  As an 18 year old I was in awe.  The rest of the 1985 season I was back in the Under 23's.

My First Grade debut was in 1987 against Souths at Redfern.  I played at fullback, they beat us, Steve Mavin ran around me to score.

In 1987 I played in the Reserve Grade Grand Final winning side. 

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

The 1987 Reserve Grade Grand Final win was awesome.  Graham Murray was the coach, we had Darryl Brohman and Tony Butterfield as the props and it was the last game at SCG.  We had some other top players in the side including Gary Longhurst, Mark Geyer and Warren Fenton, a great bunch for a Reserve Grade side.

I was fortunate enough to play in the 1988 Grand Final winning side with the Bulldogs.  We had a top side with Michael Hagan, Terry Lamb, Paul Dunn, Peter Tunks, Tony Currie, Andrew Farah and David Gillespie.  Phil Gould was my coach again.   I was playing on the wing.  In the dressing sheds we were extremely confident, we had a good year coming second in the season proper behind the Sharks.  I have never had a better coach, Phil was a man manager, motivating the players one on one and in groups.   The Michael Hagan try was a plan move, Phil said do this, it will work

How was the 1988 Grand Final?

Phil Gould said this before the grand final - "If you lose no one will remember you in 30 years time, however we are talking about this now and it is close to 30 years later.  Terry Lamb, knocked out Ellery Hanley, it didn't make a difference, we would of won anyhow. 

Who was your most respected rival?

I hated coming up against Mal Meninga, he was a man mountain, legs like tree stumps.  Others who I respected a lot were Rod Wishart, Michael O'Connor, Chicka Ferguson and Michael Hancock

What made you leave Canterbury to go back to Penrith?

The Salary Cap, I was cut.  I spoke with Gus at Canterbury, Gus also gave me a life line at Penrith in 1992.  Ben Alexander died in a car accident that time as well, very tragic.  1992 at Penrith I was playing with the premiership side, players like Brad Fittler, Greg Alexander, John Cartwright and Mark Geyer.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

At the end of the 1992, I had already undergone a fair bit of surgery, 15 all up, mostly in the last few years.  Ankles were my main problem.  I was signed by Penrith in 1994, I was playing a game in the local comp for match fitness when I snapped the ankle the week before going to play for Penrith.

What followed after football?

I went back to university and I was involved as a skills development office with Garry Hughes.  I was also a full time primary school teacher. 

The last 18 years started health and nutrition business www.glennissen.com.  work with a fruit and veg, concentrated fruit and veggie powders - whole food carb drink.

How was it having a career during football years?

In my playing days I worked at the Bankstown Council at Canterbury.  I was Driving excavators whilst at Penrith.  Near the end of the career the age of professionalism started.  I Think players of today should look at careers after footy, Penrith are doing this now. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game is a whole lot faster and more professional.  I am not a big fan of the unlimited interchange, it takes away the fitness factor, takes away the survival of the fittest and small guys.  The players today are ultra fast and strong.  . 

Did you keep a scrap book?

No, my mum did religiously though.  We have four scrap books at home, the kids look through sometimes.  It is nice to reminisce.  Mum was a big sports fan and she played a lot of sports herself.  Mum was right into it.

favourite restaurant

Uncle Raja's - Thai restaurant Charlestown - fancy dress.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 11 - 14 May 2016 - Ray Blacklock

  • Description
Ray Blacklock began his footballing career with Penrith and captained Penrith to their first title, the 1978, the Under 23's Grand Final. Ray then switched to Newtown for the 1981 and 1982 season where he played in the 1981 Grand Final and was involved in the notorious Final brawl between Manly and Newtown.  Ray finished his illustrious career with the Canberra Raiders during the 1983 and 1984 seasons

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 11 - 14 May 2016 - Ray Blacklock

Where did you grow up?

St Maries. 

What was your childhood like ?

There was one football between the 7 of us boys.  We cut trees down to make your own football field and goal posts in the bush.  Tree stumps were still sticking out of the ground and that's where we played football with friends.  Mostly aboriginal kids.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

No footy cards, lately I realised how good they were, I wished I had collected them.  I remember I had a1981 Newtown card.  I have got them now but didn't collected them at the time.

What was your first football experience?

We used to race as brothers and my brothers would most often beat me.  I was a Balmain supporter and I remember my favourite player was Kevin Yow Yeh.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Kevin Yow Yeh, Arthur Beetson and Bob Fulton

Your first time in the top grade?

My first game in top grade was against Arthur Beetson.  He stiff armed me and I tried to talk the ref out of sending him off because he was my hero. 

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

Winning the Under 23s Grand Final, I was the captain with Penrith in 1978.  This was our first Penrith premiership.  It was great because I knew all the local boys.  They took me off in the second half because of a broken arm, it actually brok in the first half.  They knew my arm was broken from the way I was tackling.

Who was your most respected rival?

Terry Fahey, hated him running at me. He was a powerful and fast runner. 

What made you leave Penrith to go to Newtown?

Warren Ryan, talked me into it. 

What was it like playing Parramatta in the 1981 Grand Final?

Parramatta were an awesome side, very professional. 

Which club did you prefer to play the most

Newtown, just a bit more professional. 

I have got to ask about the big brawl in 1981 against Manly? what do you remember about that?

It was incredible, just exploded, players left their wing to get involved.  Terry Randall ran 10m to belt someone.  Bring back the biff is what I say.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was playing at Canberra.  Then the Dolphins in QLD, I dislocated my shoulder and I  felt I had nothing to prove anymore and it was just time to give it away.

What followed after football?

Moved to Mackay, same place as my good mate Terry Wickey

How has the game changed since your playing days?

It is a lot faster, it's made for fast blokes, not as a hard as it used to be, just a lot fitter.  

Did you keep a scrap book?

no

favourite restaurant

Chinese. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 10 - 08 May 2016 - Geoff Bagnall

  • Description
Geoff Bagnall was the first halfback of the Gold Coast Giants side in 1988, he played with them until 1991 before having a stint with Wakefield Trinity in the English league. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 10 - 08 May 2016 - Geoff Bagnall

Where did you grow up?

Brisbane.  I started playing football at the age of 15, made my first grade debut in 1983 for Norths in Brisbane and played with them until 1987.

What was your childhood like ?

I remember watching Wally Lewis first game in the top grade.  Ross Strudwick was the half and Wally was playing lock.  Everyone had heard on the grapevine how good this young kid was. 

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Ross Strudwick was my childhood hero and I used to wear his badge to school.  Dont know where they are now.

What was your first football experience?

Aussie rules as a 7 year old.  Dad didn't know the difference between the codes and signed my up with an AFL side.  I remember saying to him, what are you doing dad they punch the ball, I want to go to the one where they throw the ball.   The next week he took me to the right one.  I used to watch the football on late night TV in the 70's.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Ross Struckwick and Wally Lewis, he was up and coming - even though I played with Wally Lewis.  Steve Mortimer, Tommy Raudonikis.  I followed both Brisbane and Sydney league competitions when I was growing up. 

Your first time in the top grade?

In the Brisbane competition I was 17 years old, Barry Muir said you are good enough so you are old enough.  Henry Foster was the opposing half.  All I can remember that night was it was a very tough game, they hit a lot harder in first grade and I woke up a lot sorer, the forwards were huge.  I think we won that game. 

I was the first halfback for the Giants.  Bob McCarthy was coach and we played the Bulldogs in a night match.  We got rolled but they didn't win by much.  I couldn't believe I was playing against Steve Mortimer.  In another match of the 1988 season against Parramatta I remember big Eric Grothe making a break and I thought to myself how am I going to tackle this bloke, but I got him, he was a legend.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

Winning a premiership at country level.  My days in Wakefield Trinity after playing in the Winfield Cup.   

First win for the Giants was against the Broncos.  Alfie Langer was the Brisbane halfback, we played against each other in the Brisbane competition.  Ron Gibbs flattened Lewis and Miles, which set the tone for the match.  Billy Johnstone, Chris Close had blinders.  We came to play, and shocked the Broncos, it was their first loss.

Who was your most respected rival?

Greg Alexander, speed and craftiness hardest player to mark.  Gary Freeman liked to rough you up a bit.  Alfie and Ricky Stuart as well.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was in the clear and a Front rower caught me in the local comp, Group 18 country, I knew then it was time to give it away.

What were your highlights of playing First Grade Rugby League?

1991 I played with Wally Lewis, he was a childhood hero.  Wally had already played his best football but it was still great to play alongside him.  His presence made us feel confident, you did what Wally told you to do.  Paul shaw signed that year, shared the half back position.

Any memorable moments whilst playing for the Giants?

Ronnie Gibbs was funny to play with, he was a very passionate player, he would psyche himself up before a game along with the whole team.  He was a clean freak and one day I forgot my towel , after a shower I grabbed his towel and threw it on the ground, he went off.  He was going to get me, I took off .  He threw the towel at a fluorescent light which smashed over the General Managers head.  I was a bit worried about turning up for the next training session, but he had cooled down by then, thankfully

What followed after football?

I taught at school all through my football career, so naturally continued teaching. I have been a school teacher for 30 years, this year actually will be 30 years. 

I am still mates with a few of the Gold Coast boys.  I catch up with Chris Close.  Robert Simpkins (Truck) he helps me with pluming.

How was it having a career during football years?

All footballers should be looking to the future, use the time on their hands to develop themselves for post football days.  I loved my era when you had to work. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game is much quicker now, play the ball is quicker and it is all about getting momentum.  The old days had more craftiness compared to today .  There is some unbelievable skill in todays compeition, the likes of Benji Marshall and Shaun Johnson.  I Like watching the young blokes with skill coming through such as Ben Barba.

Did you keep a scrap book?

Kids put together a scrap book and I still have it today.

What was the difference between Australi and and English football?

I played for Wakefield Trinity between 1991 and 1994.  There was less emphasis on attack over there.  The people were marvelous,  made me feel welcome. 

What is your favourite restraunt

Local Thai at Palm Beach

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 9 - 27 April 2016 - Larry Corowa

  • Description

Larry Corowa played for the Balmain Tigers between 1978 and 1983 before entering an early retirement.  Larry made a remarkable comeback in 1991 for the Gold Coast side.

Larry was a very quick footballer and was known as the Black Flash.  Larry played 5 games for NSW and twice for Australia

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 9 - 27 April 2016 - Larry Corowa

Where did you grow up?

Tweed Heads, Chindara, the same place where Matty Seers grew up.

What was your first football experience?

Dad took me to sign on at tweed junior rl, I always was pretty quick, I played on the wing for Canberra, before that I was in the halves

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Saturday afternoons, Norm and May calling the game, Souths mainly played.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Eric Simms and Arthur Beetson.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

They were not around

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

I do, it was in 1978 against Penrith at Leichardt Oval.  In the second half I got the ball with some space and scored a try, which helped us to help win the game.  Ron Wiley told them to get the ball to me.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Playing in the First Test Match in 1979 at LangPark, with my parents coming to watch. 

I scored 5 tries against the Poms in Monaro in 1977 undefeated, with percy knight.  

The Kangaroo Tour of 1978.  She was hard playing the local english teams, 13 tries on tour, great learning. 21, Mick Cronin was my roommate.  I forged great relationships wth Steve Rogers and Peter Moore.

The First Test match of 1979. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Wingers: Terry Fahey, Kerry Bousthead, Eric Grothe, Ian Schubert, Chris Anderson and Tom Mooney

What was the best team you played against?

Late 70s Dragons sides lead by Rod Reddy and Craig Young, then early 80s was Parramatta

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I retired because my mother was dying.  I had been away from home since the age of 15 and hadn't spent a lot of time her.  This was in 1983 and in 1991 I was the sprint coach for the Gold Coast Tweed Seagulls and one night Wombat threw me a pair of boots and asked me to play.  The game was certainly a lot faster and the players were much fitter.

What followed after football?

I am heavily involved with the Indigenous side of Rugby League along with Ricky Walford, development stuff.  We set up programs for the Under 16s.  More money is required to be pumped into the Indigenous development for the up and coming players.  Rugby League central need to concentrate more on this

Where do you see the game going and what changes need to be implicated?

All Stars concept needs to remain and have different coaches every two years.  The reasoning for this is to expose different coaches to Indigenous experiences within the Rugby League community.  There needs to be strong leadership throughout the grass roots of the game, and country areas of both NSW and QLD. 

Advice for NSW is you need strong country rugby league to win Origin, QLD are doing this much better through places like Townsville and Rockhampton. 

The game at the moment is suited to Polynesians

The game is too structured, not enough individual flair and brilliance

Chicken wing tackles and wrestling are not in the nature of the game

The game used to be a war of attrition.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Tradition has gone from the game.  The game is a lot faster now and the players are fitter.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Chinese

Did you keep a scrap book?

My sister kept a scrap book for me

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 8 - 13 April 2016 - Colin Fraser

  • Description
Colin Fraser played for St George from 1982 to 1988 and then With Easts for the 1989 season.  Colin played at some landmark events including the opening of Parramatta Stadium and the SFS.

Where did you grow up?

Penshurst in the St George area

What was your first football experience?

As an under 6 year old at Penshurst RSL got tackled first night at training and said “this is too tough for me”.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Having Billy Smith as a coach from 7-12 and winning seven premierships in a row.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yeah had a fair few and played games with them on an old green blanket.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Rod Rocket Reddy

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

Hard to forget your first game it was against Souths at Redfern 1982 I was 19 and I think I dropped the few balls thrown to me.  Luckily I scored a try and topped the tackle count and held my spot for the following week.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Apart from that game it would have to be beating Parra in 1983 at Kogarah 32-2 in front of a full house to finish equal 5th with the Roosters.

Who was your most respected rival?

Junior.

What was the best team you played against?

Parramatta 1983-85

What was the first Charity Shield experience like?

We thought it was a trail they thought it was a get square so it was on from the first scrum and like so many other traditions that started in the 80’s it has lasted till today. The idea was to raise money for the two hospitals South Sydney and St George and I think 8 of us ended up visiting the two hospitals

How was the play-off for fifth spot in 1983?

What a fantastic ride that was…. we were 10th with 5 weeks of the season and Roy Masters said if we win all five games and the Roosters lose all 5 games then we would have a play off for fifth. As history shows we did that.  Best week of my career beating Parramatta at Kogarah on Sunday in the last game of the season then beating the Roosters in a play off on Tuesday Night at the SCG and backing up on Saturday to beat Balmain in the first semi in extra time.

How was the atmosphere around Kogarah in 1985 when all three sides made it to the Grand Final?

As a Saints junior it felt great as a player but as Marketing Manager of the Club it was one of those times you just could not get away from the hype

1986 Round 2 you were there for the opening of Parramatta Stadium, can you describe the atmosphere?

Saints Vs Parra games always held something special, probably from the '77 replay but to open what was then a state of the art facility was amazing.  The score was not great but it was a thrill all the same.

And the opening of the SFS?

Another match I won’t forget opening the stadium on a wet night but this one we won so it made it all the more sweeter.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was once told it was better to leave while they still wanted you to play than stay when they wanted you to leave.  Eventually the injuries catch up with you and you say as much as you love it you, can’t do it physically anymore.

What followed after football?

In 1990 I went to WA as Marketing Manager of the WA Rugby League with the purpose of bringing in the Western Reds which came in 1995.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The obvious ones would be ten metre rule, scums and the interchange but I think the basics have been lost as well - the play the ball, knocking a player over one on one as well as an urgency to get on the loose ball.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

My wife is Italian so I would have to say Crintis

What are your hobbies?

Outside of work I spend a lot of my time raising money for charities and cooking BBQ's

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

I think I tried for about two months to get my first footy card in 1984 …… since then I have copped a hard time for not having a shirt on in my 1989 card

Did you keep a scrap book?

I did but it got lost as I moved around the country then after my Mum died a few years ago I found her scrapbook with all of the old clippings and what must have been every program my name was in over the 9 years of playing.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 7 - 22 March 2016 - Ian Barkley

  • Description
Ian Barkley played for Eastern Suburbs from 1981 to 1983 and then with Manly from 1984 to 1988.  Ian was the NSWRL Sportswriters Rookie of the year in 1981.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 7 - 22 March 2016 - Ian Barkley

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Kempsey and moved to Newcastle at the age of 9.

What was your first football experience?

I remember playing barefoot rugby league in Kempsey and when moving to Newcastle and playing under nines having to wear shoes.

As a child what was your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Being selected in the NSW under 12’s that toured NSW.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Bob Fulton.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

My first full game was playing Penrith at Penrith park. I received the Frank Hyde man of the match.  Prior to that I would play half a game second grade to qualify to be a reserve for first grade (a rule that younger league fans are blown away by the concept), whilst some games were rewarding for me I also on one occasion missed a tackle on Percy Knight at Leichhardt oval that cost us the game.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

League provided many highlights and challenges. Being selected for the Australian Schoolboys tour of France and England 1979/1980, NSW sportswriters Rookie of the year 1981, playing several semi-final series at SCG. Second grade premiership with Manly in 1988.

The highlight for me about Rugby League however from schoolboys to grade was the friendships, relationships and character building experiences that have created the life I now lead and the person I am.

Who was your most respected rival?

Most respected rival early in my career was Steve Mortimer. Real competitor, tough despite his size and super fast.

What was the best team you played against?

Best side played against no doubt was parramatta in all 3 premiership years, 1981,82,83.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I had lost the passion needed to be competitive by 1989 and as such sitting on the bench for 2nd grade was a clear sign that it was time to let the next generation take my place.

What followed after football?

I own a chemical manufacturing business with Bob Fulton and we service predominately the mining operations of QLD and NSW

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game today is as tough as it ever was physically.  The game in my day was very dirty, you ran with the object of protecting your head.  I believe the modern game with controls on illegal play have allowed players to be more creative. In my era it was a game of attrition, 2 replacements, no interchange, a far cry from todays rules.  I still love the modern game, it has issues as all eras have, but the quality of play and gladiator combatant nature is still evident and enjoyable to see.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Pauls Asian Affair Newcastle

What are your hobbies?

Golf Training

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

Not all, I have a complete set of 1982 cards that includes 1 of my years

Did you keep a scrap book?

I didn’t but my mother was a prolific scrap booker and she kept anything and everything on my career. I now have them and find it interesting to look over them from time to time and see players I had the privilege of competing with as well as opposition players we “cut dirt with”

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 6 - 16 March 2016 - Jason Martin

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Jason Martin was the Dally M Rookie of the year whilst playing for Norths in 1990.  Jason played with Norths until 1992 before switching to Newcastle from 1993 to 1994.  Jason was part of the Cowboys first side when they joined the competition in 1995 and remained there the following season.

Jason is also remembered as a singer who released his music cassette 'Take it to the Top' whilst playing for the Bears.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 6 - 16 March 2016 - Jason Martin

Where did you grow up?

I spent my early childhood out in noth west NSW before I moved to the coast. Tea Gardens is where I would consider home.

What was your first football experience?

My first footy experience other than the back yard with my much tougher brothers was at primary school as a six year old making up the numbers in the under 12's side. 

I was fortunate enough to meet Kerry Boustead when I was 8. He was extremely generous with his time and he made an enormous impression on me. It was that experience that made me want to pursue a career in rugby league, even at that age. Years later I played with Kerry at North Sydney and joined him again at the Cowboys when he was CEO in 1995.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I collected the odd footy card as a kid. Nothing serious.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

My hero growing up was Tommy Raudonikis for sure. I followed the magpies and then Newtown when he moved there. Such a tough little human. Sterlo was my next pick. I watched Sterlo, I was in awe of his ability to control a game. Two pretty handy halfbacks.

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

My first game in first grade was against Parramatta at Parramatta Stadium. I played a full game in reserves and the great late Scotty Gale got injured early so Frank Stanton threw me on. Highlight. Cover tackle on Eric Grothe Snr that took him over the sideline. Lowlight. Can't remember a thing after that.

What was it like being involved with the Cowboys during the first year in 1995?

The Cowboys was an interesting time.  There was a plan to introduce young North Queensland players over the years and eventually have a team full of north Queenslanders.  Super league unfortunately put a stop to that. We lost Kerry Boustead as CEO and then Grant Bell as coach. Belly was so passionate about the team and the entire area and it was a difficult time for all of us.  Grant Bell has done so much for league in Queensland it's a shame he is not recognise a lot more.

Taking it to the Top, music cassette, can you tell us a little about that experience?

Oh the song. It's hard to remember that far back. Maybe I've blocked it out. I can't remember getting too much sledging. I'm sure there was some. I think it amused everyone more than anything.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Highlights. I managed to snare a couple of awards early in my career and that was special. I think it was more the other players that I had the opportunity to play with and against. It was a terrific era.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I was playing overseas in the English super league when I finished up at that level. The game had changed a lot and my heart wasn't in it. It was becoming a job more than fun. If I knew then what I know now I may have persevered. We were all very fortunate to be able to be a part of such a wonderful sport. 

What followed after football?

After I finally hung up the boots I didn't really know what to do. I surfed, played the guitar in pubs and enjoyed life for a while. My wife helped me enormously to adapt to life outside the game. It wasn't easy. 

Who was your most respected rival?

Peter Sterling was a childhood idol so playing against, he brought the best out of me as a player. 

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game has changed dramatically in my opinion. I miss the characters. I used to watch games or even play in games and you just knew something memorable would happen.  An act of skill or brutality From an individual. There was a role for the big guys and a role for the little guys. Now, in my opinion it seems a little predictable and clinical. Players are so similar across the park. 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

My favourite restaurant would be anywhere with friendly service, well priced, good food, good wine. 

What are your hobbies?

I have quite a few hobbies that keep me busy. Music is very important. I still write a lot and play guitar, mostly for my own enjoyment  these days. I also do a lot of artwork and have been working on a few things over the past few years that will hopefully help others to find more joy and fulfillment in their lives. 

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

I have a few footy cards. The NRL presented us with a couple of albums full of cards from 1995-1996 I think. There's a few of mine in there. They are still packed away safely somewhere.

Did you keep a scrap book?

I have a good friend who's younger brother followed my career over the years. He presented me with a scap book when he got a bit older. That was really touching. My mum and dad kept every article and picture they could and put it all together for me as well. Another great gift.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 5 - 10 March 2016 - Paul Sironen

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Paul Sironen is a Tiger through and through playing for Balmain between 1986 until 1998.  Paul played 14 State of Orign games for NSW and played for Australia on 21 occasions

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 5 - 10 March 2016 - Paul Sironen

What was your first football experience?

U/7s Gladesville Bowling & sports club-short of players & a mate brought me along with a pair of boots

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

100% loved building the pictures they used have on the back! The bubblegum was sensational as well.

As a child what is your most memorable experience of Rugby League?

Car pooling with five mates going to games then out to SCG for match of the day

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Had a few-Arthur Beetson, Bob Fulton & Terry Randell

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

Parra at Leichhardt 1986-great team they had in those days. We got beat 24-8 or thereabouts. Held my own but took me a while to believe I deserved to be there.

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Too many to list but playing Grand Finals very special

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

When I started singing the Wiggles songs to myself during a game

What followed after football?

Always involved in the game – been a coach, Manager, Administrator & a Director

Who was your most respected rival?

David Gillespie and Les Davidson were blokes I didn't look to run at

How has the game changed since your playing days?

Apart from money-now full-time pros & the level of scrutiny on the players-happy I played when I did

What’s your favourite restaurant?

One of my best mates is a chef so love popping in too his place for his hospitality & advice on life!!!

What are your hobbies?

Bit of golf, hope to travel more & watch my boys play a bit of footy

Have you collected your own footy cards ?

No consciously but have ended up with different ones of the years

Did you keep a scrap book?

Had friends & family that have given us clippings over time-I have a fair bit of stuff which is nice to go through every now & then when I’m feeling nostalgic!

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 4 - 5 Match 2016 - Marty Gurr

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Marty Gurr played for Easts, then Souths and finally played with Manly between 1979 and 1988.  Marty played in two State of Origin matches in 1983.

Heroes of Yesteryear, Interview 4 - 5 March 2016 - Marty Gurr

Where did you grow up?

Coogee, in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

Yes, the old Scanlens cards were great currency in the playground at school.  I remember 1 year, if you collected the full set on the other side of the cards it formed a photo of the SCG on Grand Final day, very cool.

What was your first football experience?

Under 6’s at OLSH Randwick in South Sydney Convent Schools Competition, used to be played at Moore Park opposite the SCG.

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

Billy Smith and Arthur Beetson. 

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

In those days you got a taste of 1st grade by playing Under 23’s and sitting on the bench for Reserve and 1st grade on the one day.  After a couple of 10-15 minutes stints at the end of matches, my 1st full game in 1st Grade was v Newtown at the Sydney Sportsground in 1979.  I remember a lot of bombs in both halves and being lucky enough to win a new Citizen watch as an award.

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

I played with many great players and great people at some unbelievable venues and we had a lot of fun.  You form great friendships and a bond that is always there, even if you have not seen each other for a long time and then get together, it is like you saw them yesterday and have plenty of laughs.

Who was your most respected rival?

Graham Eadie

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

I finished playing when i was 30 and every player will tell you, you just know.  I was lucky enough to be able to choose when I retired.

What followed after football?

I coached at Manly for about 10 years and we had some great players in the 90’s.  Also I was working with Des Hasler and Cliff Lyons in Coaching & Development at the time, so I was able to give something back to the game.  I was grateful to be a Director at Classic Sportswear and now live on the Gold Coast working in the Golf Department at RACV Royal Pines.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game now has lot of explosive athletes and with so many interchanges we have lost the impact of the small players and the 80 minute players. The game is so regimented now and the interchange covers too much for the explosive player getting tired and this is why we have so many tries scored from kicks now.

I just hope we don’t keep reducing the percentage each year of the skillful, creative footy players in the game or we will get a game that is over choreographed and rigid.

Did you keep a scrap book?

Yes, I have a few photos and clippings in a box.

What is your favorite restaurant?

We enjoy the atmosphere and Food at our local Surf Club at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast.

What are your hobbies?

Obviously, I enjoy playing some Golf at RACV Royal Pines.

Have you managed to collect your own footy cards?

I have had a couple sent for me to sign and they gave me a copy.

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 3 - 3 March 2016 - Colin Scott

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Colin Scott played for Wynnum-Manly, then the Brisbane Broncos, QLD and Australia representative

Heroes of Yesteryear, Mega Interview 3 - 3 March 2016 - Colin Scott

Where did you grow up?

Townsville with good mate Gene Miles

What was your childhood like ?

I am of aboriginal decent and was adopted a raised by a non-indigenous family.  I was into boxing first and was a golden gloves boxer two times, my family got me out of boxing because it was interfering with my school work and they got me into footy which was even worse.  I loved football so much and played as often as I could.

Did you collect footy cards as a kid ?

I did, there was some bubblegum cards in Townsville, but not from the Sydney football competition.  I remember they had a puzzle on the back.

What was your first football experience?

As a 10 year old I used to stay up late watching test matches played in England until 3 am.  As a kid I was lucky enough to meet Des Morris and Arthur Beetson, what I remember most about them was that they were very humble, they did not have big heads and were basically gentleman

Who were your footballing heroes as a kid ?

I was a Canterbury supporter so I liked Stan Cutler and then Steve Mortimer.  Big Arthur Beetson of course. 

Your first time in the top grade?

Played for Townsville A-Grade with my good mate Gene Miles.  I am still dirty with him, he was selected for A-Grade before me, however I was selected to play for QLD before him in 1979

Greatest memories of playing rugby league?

My greatest moment in my footballing career was running out behind big Artie Beetson for the first ever State of Origin clash.

There are four standouts in my career.  Three of which I was involved in the first, 1st State of Origin, 1st Combined Brisbane side to win a midweek comp and in the 1st Brisbane Broncos team:

1      Playing for Wynnum Manly between 1981 to 1987, winning the premiership with them and playing with my good mate Gene Miles and many other legends.

2      Playing in the first State of Origin clash.  I had already played in the interstate series against the likes of Arthur Beetson.  I will never forget when Arthur Beetson walked through the QLD dressing shed door and he said how you going Scotty... I couldn't believe he knew my name.  I went outside and found a phone box, this is a long time before mobile phones, and I called my mum to tell her this.  I remember thinking what am I doing here amongst these legends

3      Playing for the Combined Brisbane side in 1984 and winning the AMCO Cup.  We defeated Easts in the final by one point only

4      Playing for the Brisbane Broncos in 1988.  Actually I was wearing the number 1 jersey for both the first Brisbane side and the first QLD SOO sides however on both occasions my number was shifted to number 2, not that I would argue as the captains received the number 1's, they being Arthur Beetson for Orgin and Wally Lewis for Brisbane, both immortals. 

What was the difference between QLD and NSW in the early Origin games?

In the first game NSW didn't expect such a tough game, we were ready to play.  QLD had been in camp for a week in preparation for the match where NSW were recovering from playing club matches in Sydney just days beforehand.  QLD really wanted to win this match, Ron McAuliffe offered the players $1000 for a win compared to $200 which was offered for the interstate matches.  In those days it was pretty relaxed, there was no mental preparation, you were just thrown your jersey.

How was it playing for the Brisbane Broncos?

Wayne Bennett was an opposition coach during my QLDRL football career and it was difficult to come under him at the Broncos.  I was 28 years old and set in my ways and at the end of the 1988 season Wayne Bennett told me I was going to be the second choice fullback, which I took offence to and told him to jam that.  Now I reflect on this and realise he was testing my attitude.  He said the same thing to Michael Hancock for the wing position, and Michaels attitude was I will prove to you I am the best winger you have.  Michael was a young up and comer, I had already been around for a long time.

Who was your most respected rival?

Joe Kilroy and Gary Belcher for QLD and Greg Brentnall and Gary Jack for NSW

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

When Wayne Bennett told me I would be second choice fullback

What followed after football?

Went on to coach the Mareeba side in QLD and we beat the so called un-beatables side.  Coaching kept me physically conditioned.  I learnt a lot from Wayne Bennett as a coach and reading his book "Leagues a lot like life"  I learnt a lot about dealing with a variety of different personalities and bringing them all together through coaching, which is very rewarding.

How has the game changed since your playing days?

The game is too structured now, I prefer the flamboyant style from my playing days

Did you keep a scrap book?

I have a pile of clippings in a suitcase

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 2 - 25 February 2016 - Jason Bell

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Jason Bell played for Parramatta, Norths, Souths, return to Parramatta and then Auckland between 1989 to 2000. 

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 2 - 25 February 2016 - Jason Bell

Where did you grow up?

Sydney

What was your first football experience?

Player under 7's for Wentworthville

As a child what is your most memorable experience of Rugby League ?

Playing for fun

Did you collect footy cards as a kid?

No collection of footy cards

Who were your footballing heroes as a child?

Steve Morris and Teddy Goodwin. 

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

Just playing in first grade was great, no lowlights

What was your highlight of playing first grade football?

Mateship, team work and trips away.

Who was your most respected rival?

Craig Field

What followed after football?

work, kids and family

what has changed most about the game since your playing days?

The size of the players, much bigger and the game is a bit quicker

What is your favorite restaurant?

The home restaurant

Did you keep a scrap book?

no

Did you have your own collection of footy cards?

no

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 1 - 14 February 2016 - Bruce Clark

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Bruce Clark, Western Suburbs cult hero

Heroes of Yesterday, Interview 1 - 14 February 2016 - Bruce Clark

Do you remember your first game in first grade, and what were the highlights and lowlights?

My first First Grade game was against Souths in 1979 & it was a great side with Dallas, Cooper, Boyd, Grady, Tommy & many other greats.  It was the Face slapping that opened my Eyes. I wish I could put it in print the Experience BUT

As a child what is your most memorable experience of Rugby League?

I played Soccer until I was 17 But played school boys Rugby League playing HOOKER.  In Year 5 our school won the Canterbury Knock out and again in year 6 winning it again and getting beaten by a Catholic College in the final on the SCG. My School had three students making the zone for the NSW Titles, myself as a HOOKER, the front rower & half back.

Did you collect footy cards as kid

CARDS, I didn't collect, BUT having 7 Daughters 1 son & 11 Grandchildren they are starting to collect my Cards

Who was your footballing hero, as a child?

Living in Canterbury my Hero's were Neville Hornry and Les Johns

Who was your most respected rival?

Kevin Ward, Manly and Great Britain (Castleford) front rower, incredibly tough

What was your highlight of playing First Grade football?

Playing Grade Football I have meet some Great mate's from West & opposition teams, and memories still get spoken over many a Beer.

When did you know it was time to give the game away?

After 9 years at West and then a stint in England The old knees could not take it anymore, I finished up on the Central Coast having a Season with UNINA, That finished me.

What followed after football?

Relaxing at Lake Macquarie with my Beautiful wife and children

How has the game changed since your playing days?

I think the game has changed, there should be no under 20's competition, instead make it an Under 23's competition with 5 older players in the side to Teach them the game. Drop the Replacement rules to 6 & let the BIG GUYS get fatigued so the little Guys can open the game up and make it more spectacular. 

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Too many Great Restaurants,  BUT I do have great times at the Bay Hotel Motel in Bonnels Bay

What are your hobbies

I'm enjoying spending time with my Children and Grandchildren.  I also love a game of Golf and a Punt on Saturday afternoon

Did you keep a scrap book?

SCRAP BOOKS, My mother collected everything I have plenty that the children enjoy and Laugh at